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ECOSOC/7062
21 July 2021
2021 Session, 12th Meeting (AM)

Economic and Social Council Opening Management Segment, Adopts Texts on Haiti, African Countries Emerging from Conflict, Non-Governmental Organizations

The Economic and Social Council opened its 2021 Management Segment today with the adoption of four draft resolutions and six draft decisions, all but two of them without a vote, including a draft resolution that cast a spotlight on the complex challenges facing Haiti in the wake of the 7 July assassination of its President Jovenel Moïse, as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the draft resolutions, “Support to Non-Self-Governing Territories by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations”, was adopted by a recorded vote of 19 in favour to none against, with 26 abstentions.  In doing so, the 54-member Council recommended that all States intensify their efforts within the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system of which they are members to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and other relevant United Nations resolutions.

The draft decision “Application of the non-governmental organization International Association for the Development of the Abaza-Abkhaz Ethnos ‘Alashara’ for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council”, submitted by Georgia, was adopted by a recorded vote of 21 in favour to 7 against (Botswana, China, Ethiopia, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), with 17 abstentions.

Adopting the draft resolution “Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti” without a vote, the Council took note of that body’s report and its focus on the multifaceted impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on Haiti.  It also decided to extend the Group’s mandate until the conclusion of its 2022 session.

Bruno Georges Lemarquis, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary‑General in Haiti, speaking via video-teleconference, said that many billions of dollars have been invested in Haiti over the last decades, yet key development indicators have continued to regress.  The international community needs to move away from emergency aid, short-term approaches and project approaches to long-term solutions which can achieve a greater impact.  “Let’s turn this challenging moment for Haitians, Haiti and friends of Haiti, in a momentum for change, an opportunity to ‘flip the orthodoxy’ while relying on co‑created sustainable solutions,” he said.

Canada’s representative, speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group to introduce its report, said recent events in Haiti are a reminder of the importance of working hand in hand with the country and its people to develop more peaceful, prosperous and democratic future.   “At this very difficult and uncertain time, we stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti, and we commit to do our utmost to support them,” he said.

Haiti’s representative said that, with the pandemic and the President’s assassination, it appeared that his country was on the brink of chaos and anarchy, but thanks to the wisdom of its leaders, the worst has been avoided with the installation of a new Government that will steer the nation towards elections on 7  February 2022.  He urged international partners to recognize Haiti’s specific situation, respect its sovereignty and independence, and ensure that development assistance aligns with the Government’s goals.

Acting without a vote, the Council adopted the draft resolutions “African countries emerging from conflict” and “Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020”, as well as the draft decision “Sustainable Development in the Sahel”.

On the recommendation of its Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, it adopted two draft decisions titled “Applications for consultative status, requests for reclassification, requests for a change of name and quadrennial reports received from non-governmental organizations” and “Report of the Committee on Non‑Governmental Organizations on its 2021 regular session”.

Additionally, acting on recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report on regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields, it adopted draft decisions titled “Best Practice Guidance for Effective Methane Recovery and Use from Abandoned Coal Mines” and “Updated United Nations Framework Classification for Resources”.

The Council also took note of the report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination at its sixty-first session and relevant sections of the proposed programme budget for 2022.

In addition, the Council heard briefings and the introduction of reports from the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, the Special Coordinator for Development in the Sahel, the representative of Grenada in her capacity as Chair of the Special Committee on Decolonization, the Director of the Emerging and Conflict Related Issues Division at the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCAP) and the Director of the Regional Commissions New York Office.

Also speaking were representatives of Mexico, United States, Israel and Syria.

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 22 July, to continue its 2021 Management Segment.

African Countries Emerging from Conflict

MOHAMED FATHI AHMEN EDREES (Egypt), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, briefed the Council on the Commission’s work, saying that, in 2020, 12 of the 15 national and regional contexts covered by the Commission were in Africa.  During an informal consultative meeting in October 2020, the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Commission recognized the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the countries and regions under the Commission’s consideration.  The two bodies called for stronger support for African Union post‑conflict reconstruction and development efforts.  To strengthen coherence and coordination, the Commission has used its platform to overcome limitations in the United Nations system to forge a common understanding and analysis of causes of conflicts in Africa and to better inform peacebuilding efforts.  In addition, the Commission has strengthened synergies with the Peacebuilding Fund.  He explained that the Commission has, among other things, promoted a comprehensive approach to peacebuilding and sustaining peace; advanced the need for regional approaches to peacebuilding in Africa; and supported national, regional and international measures towards sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, including facilitating equitable access to safe and effective vaccines.

ARAFAT JAMAL, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, speaking via video-teleconference, then presented Chapter II of the Secretary-General’s report on the “Implementation of integrated, coherent and coordinated support for South Sudan and the Sahel region by the United Nations system” (document E/2021/63).

That chapter outlines “considerable progress” made since the signing in 2018 of the Revitalized Peace Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, with a reduction in conflict-related violence and the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity in March 2020.  Nonetheless, the implementation of the peace process is slow.  Several pre-transitional tasks remain pending, and challenges and delays were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and poor infrastructure.  It also states that humanitarian needs were dire in 2020 and remain high in 2021, with some 8.3 million people requiring assistance.

The report further outlines a range of support provided to South Sudan by the United Nations, noting that progress in the peace process and improved stability created more opportunities for access and the delivery of assistance.  However, the slow pace of the peace process and the humanitarian crisis — aggravated by floods, locust infestations and COVID-19 — also made delivery challenging at times or caused delays.  The United Nations country team responded swiftly and flexibly, for example by redirecting funds for activities that could not be implemented owing to COVID-19 restrictions to others, such as the manufacturing of face masks and soap and educational programmes delivered via radio.

The report notes that the current United Nations Cooperation Framework is based on a local approach to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and is concurrent with the three-year transitional period under the 2018 Revitalized Agreement.  Describing “significant results”, it states that the Organization’s agencies, funds and programmes mobilized and delivered $172 million in 2018 and $213 million in 2019.  In 2020, the country team’s overall development funding delivery stood at about $203 million, despite considerable challenges.  It notes that, going forward, more progress will be needed on political and governance issues; the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former fighters and security sector reform; and improvements in the humanitarian and human rights situation.  It also underlines the importance of holding democratic elections after the country’s transitional period.

The Resident Coordinator, elaborating on the report, drew attention to the spontaneous return of more 1 million internally displaced persons and 400,000 refugees to South Sudan.  “You might say that people are voting with their feet,” he said.  Going forward, a successful political transition in South Sudan is fundamental for its future, he said, stressing the need for progress in political and governance issues; disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation efforts; and improvements in the humanitarian and human rights situation.  Better education and health care should help reduce violence and reduce its negative effects on girls, women and disabled persons.  A new flagship initiative for disaster risk reduction is urgently needed, as South Sudan is ranked among the countries most vulnerable to climate change.  A reduction in violence in all its forms, including sexual and gender-based violence, is another prerequisite, he said.

The Economic and Social Council then adopted the draft decision:  “African countries emerging from conflict” (document E/2021/L.32).  By its terms, the Council, recalling its decision 2020/232, would request the Secretary-General to submit to the Council at its 2022 session a report on the implementation of integrated, coherent and coordinated support for South Sudan by the United Nations system.

Sustainable Development in the Sahel

MAR ABDOULAYE DIENG, Special Coordinator for Development in the Sahel, introduced the section of the same Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of integrated, coherent and coordinated support specific to the Sahel region by the United Nations system, as contained in chapter three.  He recalled Security Council resolution 2391 (2017) and the Economic and Social Council’s resolution 2020/2, in which Member States called for the strengthening of collective and effective engagement to curb the deteriorating situation in the Sahel.  Against that backdrop, he said, those resolutions further underscore the importance of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and its support plan.

Noting that the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) plummeted below 1 per cent in 2020 and the security and humanitarian responses were significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the chapter also cites persistent unemployment, high rates of poverty and a large informal economy that remains highly vulnerable to shocks.  The region continues to experience extreme temperatures, fluctuating rainfall and droughts, threatening the livelihoods of a mostly agrarian population.  At present, 29 million people require humanitarian assistance and protection, the highest number ever recorded in the region.  However, he said, the United Nations and its partners “stayed and delivered”, bringing life-saving assistance to some 15.8 million people in 2020, often in challenging environments and in hard-to-reach areas.  It also provided critical personal protective equipment and strengthened cooperation with regional and subregional bodies, including the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel).

Outlining other United Nations support, he said the report cites a major expansion under the overarching framework of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel and its support plan.  Through the Organization’s COVID-19 socioeconomic response plans, the Organization is addressing immediate needs and long-term socioeconomic development issues, in line with national priorities.  However, funding gaps are estimated at approximately 41.5 per cent, with financial resources needed to respond to COVID-19 totalling $2.5 billion.  The report also makes several recommendations, including accelerating investments; leveraging opportunities provided by the region’s large youth population; a civilian surge to expand stabilization efforts; and a radical shift to ensure women’s meaningful participation in peace processes.

The Council then adopted a related draft decision titled “Sustainable development in the Sahel” (document E/2021/L.33).  By its terms, the Council, recalling its resolution 2020/2 and its decision 2020/231, decided to take note of the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of integrated, coherent and coordinated support for South Sudan and the Sahel region by the United Nations system.  It also requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council at its 2022 session on how the United Nations system is implementing integrated, coherent and coordinated support to achieve sustainable development in the Sahel region, within existing resources.

Long-Term Programme of Support for Haiti

The Council then took up the report of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group of Haiti, which outlined its work over the reporting period (document E/2021/65), including a series of virtual meetings with national authorities, representatives of international financial institutions and civil society, as well as representatives of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and the United Nations country team.  Noting that Haiti continues to be affected by a complex situation characterized by poverty, social exclusion, economic inequalities, weak institutions, human rights violations, impunity, corruption and an ongoing political crisis, it adds that COVID-19 is exacerbating all of those challenges.  Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation remains dire, with 4.4 million people, or 40 per cent of the country’s population, requiring humanitarian aid.

Among its recommendations, the Group calls upon humanitarian, development and peace actors to ensure the complementarity of their actions to better reduce risks and vulnerabilities, address the root causes of Haiti’s challenges and promote long-term sustainable development.  It underscores that sustained support from the international community — including the United Nations, international financial institutions and bilateral partners — is needed to help the country respond to and build back better from COVID-19, as well as to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada), Chair of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, introduced the report, saying that recent events in Haiti are a reminder of the importance of continuing to work hand in hand with the country and the Haitian people for the development of a more peaceful, prosperous and democratic future.  The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse was appalling, he said, adding:  “At this very difficult and uncertain time, we stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti, and we commit to do our utmost to support them.”   He emphasized that successful development in Haiti depends on security and stability, popular participation, investments in infrastructure, education and economic development, full transparency and an end to corruption.  “Like a chair with many legs, when one leg of stability is missing, the chair collapses,” he said, adding that the international community should be collectively worried about the situation, “and the time to act is now”.  He called for an inclusive national dialogue to overcome the ongoing political impasse, without which political, social and economic progress will be impossible.  He went on to say that Haiti clearly has enormous economic potential, but more must be done to unlock and maximize that potential.  Only in that way can Haiti achieve the 2030 Agenda.

BRUNO GEORGES LEMARQUIS, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti, speaking via video-teleconference, said that the President’s assassination occurred in a context marred by intractable challenges which have come to be known as “Gordian knots”.  Many billions of dollars have been invested in Haiti over the last decades, but key development indicators have continued to regress in the face of limited development effectiveness.  The international community needs to move away from emergency aid, short-term approaches and project approaches to long-term solutions which can achieve a greater impact.  The United Nations country team is gradually focusing its efforts on issues such as the fight against impunity and corruption, and the modernization and transformation of the economy.  It is also working to build coalitions of national and international actors around structural challenges.  He called on Haiti’s international partners — in light of the glaring lack of development impact and low aid effectiveness in Haiti for the past 25 years — to engage with that approach.  “Let’s turn this challenging moment for Haitians, Haiti and friends of Haiti, in a momentum for change, an opportunity  to ‘flip the orthodoxy’ while relying on co‑created sustainable solutions,” he said, describing Haiti, despite its many challenges, as a land of opportunity with much to offer the region and the world.

ANTONIO RODRIGUE (Haiti) said that, with the pandemic and the President’s assassination, it appeared that Haiti was on the brink of chaos and anarchy, but thanks to the wisdom of its leaders, the worst has been avoided with the installation of a new Government on 20 July that will steer the nation towards elections on 7 February 2022.  The report of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group paints a grim picture of the situation in which Haiti finds itself, he said, adding that its recommendations dovetail with the Government’s vision on good governance and constructive dialogue among political stakeholders.  Going forward, the Government will spare no effort to rebuild trust in electoral process.  He added that international partners must take into account Haiti’s specific situation and ensure that development assistance aligns with the Government’s goals.  “We need to cast aside the theory that one size fits all,” he said, emphasizing that the Ad Hoc Advisory Group can act as a facilitator and a catalyst to usher in a new partnership between Haiti and the international community.  It is incumbent on the Haitian people to find lasting solutions to their political, economic, social and environmental problems, with tailored and strengthened international support that respects the country’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

BRUNO RÍOS SÁNCHEZ (Mexico) said that the Council needs to tackle Haiti’s development challenges, which have been rendered more complex by the pandemic.  He welcomed the United Nations’ strategic plan to help Haiti fulfil the 2030 Agenda and acknowledged the country team’s efforts to create jobs for women, youth and other vulnerable groups.  He emphasized the need to reconcile the human rights and security pillars of development, adding that a long-term support plan for Haiti can help maximize the impact of a whole-of-system approach to development.

The representative of the Secretariat read a statement of programme budget implications.

The Committee then adopted the draft resolution “Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti” (document E/2021/L.29).  By its terms, the Council took note of the report of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group and its focus on the multifaceted impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on Haiti, and decided to extend the Group’s mandate until the conclusion of the 2022 session.  It stressed the need to avoid overlap and duplication with respect to existing mechanisms, and requested the Group to submit a report on its work, with recommendations, as appropriate, to the Economic and Social Council for its consideration at its 2022 session.

The representative of the United States, in an explanation of position, said that Haiti’s leaders must set aside their differences and address the country’s long‑standing challenges.  It is encouraging to see Haitian politicians and civil society working to form a unity Government and to build the foundation for free and fair elections.  The United States stands with the Haitian people as they strive to build a safer and more democratic country.  “This is what they need and this is what they deserve,” he said, adding that his country will do its part to help implement the Ad Hoc Advisory Group’s recommendations.

Reports of Coordination Bodies

The Council then turned its attention to the Report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination on its sixty-first session (document A/76/16), taking note of its contents.   Members also took note of the report’s sections related to the proposed programme budget for 2022.

Non-Governmental Organizations

The Council then turned its attention to the work of its subsidiary Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations.

The representative of Georgia introduced a draft decision titled “Application of the non-governmental organization International Association for the Development of the Abaza-Abkhaz Ethnos ‘Alashara’ for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council” (document E/2020/L.25), which he noted is of a procedural nature.  The decision’s objective is to return the organization’s application to the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, in order to seek the Council’s in-depth consideration.  He noted that, when the application was first considered, his delegation was not notified and was therefore unable to respond in due time. It now has several questions it wishes to pose to the organization related to its work in line with the Economic and Social Council’s resolution 1996/31.  Among other concerns, he pointed out that the organization is formally registered in the Russian Federation, but actually operates in occupied regions of Georgia.

Speaking before the vote on that draft, the representative of Ukraine expressed his full support for the participation of civil society in the United Nations work.  Stressing that the Economic and Social Council’s decisions related to their work must be in strict compliance with rules and procedures, he expressed support for the draft resolution submitted by Georgia and said the organization in question, “Alashara”, fails to operate in conformity with the Council’s rules.  He also recalled that the Committee in its most recent session deferred its consideration of several Ukrainian non-governmental organizations in a “more than questionable manner”, and its working methods require improvement.

The representative of Latvia echoed some of those statements, also voicing her support for the draft decision put forward by Georgia.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation is “astonished by the manoeuvres of the Georgian delegation”, as no grounds exist to further review the Committee’s decision on the non-governmental organization in question.  While the organization is a Russian one, he stressed that Georgia has no “proprietary right” over people of the Abkhaz ethnicity, who have lived in many countries for centuries and who must be able to fully exercise their rights.  The work of the organization in question is fully in line with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, he stressed, adding that the Georgian delegation has provided no evidence to the contrary.

The representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom voiced their support for the draft decision based on additional evidence that has come to light about the organization’s work.

The Council then approved the decision by a recorded vote of 21 in favour to 7 against (Botswana, China, Ethiopia, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), with 17 abstentions.

Turning to the report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2021 regular session (document E/2021/32 (part I)), the Council approved two draft decisions contained in the report, as amended by “L.25”.

By the terms of draft decision I, the Council — as recommended by the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations — decided to grant consultative status to 432 non-governmental organizations; reclassify the consultative status of 3 non-governmental organizations from special to general; reclassify 1 non‑governmental organization from the roster to general consultative status; and note that the Committee decided to take note of the change of name of 7 non‑governmental organizations.

It further noted that the Committee decided to take note of the quadrennial reports of 604 non-governmental organizations; close without prejudice consideration of the requests for consultative status made by 34 non-governmental organizations after the organizations had failed to respond to queries over the course of two consecutive sessions of the Committee; and note that the Committee decided to take note of the request by 3 non-governmental organizations to withdraw their applications for consultative status

By the terms of draft decision II, the Council took note of the Committee’s report.

Decolonization

The Council then took up the Secretary-General’s report titled “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations” (document A/76/68), which contained a list of specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations to which the provisions of General Assembly resolution 75/104 apply.  It was submitted in line with the Assembly’s request to the Secretary-General to continue to assist those agencies and organizations in working out appropriate measures for implementing the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.

It also considered the Secretary-General’s report titled “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document E/2021/71), which provided an assessment of the assistance received by the Palestinian people and proposals for responding to unmet needs, and outlines efforts by the United Nations — in cooperation with the Government of Palestine, donors and civil society — to support Palestinian people and institutions from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.  Noting that the reporting period was characterized by continued tensions and violence and the persistence of negative trends, which further impeded the resumption of meaningful negotiations, it states that the fiscal performance of the Palestinian Authority was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and a decline in overseas development assistance.  The dire situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was further compounded by a significant deterioration in the relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the decision by the Palestinian Authority to suspend coordination with Israel in response to the latter’s stated intention to annex territory in the West Bank.

Outlining the United Nations continued humanitarian and development assistance throughout the reporting period, the report states that a total of $295.1 million was raised for the Occupied Palestinian Territory’s 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan and a total of $380.7 million was delivered.  Some of that assistance was targeted at Palestinian individuals and communities in areas beyond the reach of the Palestinian Authority, including East Jerusalem and Area C, in the occupied West Bank, and Gaza.  Under the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan for the Territory, $417 million is being sought to provide basic food, protection, health care, shelter, water and sanitation to 1.8 million Palestinians who have been identified as those most in need.

In addition, the Council had before it the Report of the President of the Economic and Social Council on “Information submitted by the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system on their activities with regard to the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations” (document E/2021/8).  It relayed information provided by 15 United Nations system entities and one international organization on their activities related to the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories under the purview of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.  Those are American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.

KEISHA ANIYA MCGUIRE (Grenada), Chair of the Special Committee, encouraged United Nations agencies, funds, programmes and regional organizations to continue to assist Non-Self-Governing Territories.  She also invited them to participate in the Special Committee’s work, including its 2021 regional seminar in Dominica on 25 to 27 August.  Assistance and support to Non-Self-Governing Territories is even more crucial given the challenges faced by their fragile and vulnerable economies, which have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

The Council then proceeded to vote on the draft resolution “Support to Non‑Self-Governing Territories by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations” (document E/2021/L.31).  Through that text, it would recommend that all States intensify their efforts within the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system of which they are members to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration, contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), and other relevant resolutions of the United Nations.

The representative of the United States, in an explanation of position, said that the draft resolution resembled others adopted by the Council since 2006.  His delegation would adhere to past practice and abstain from voting, he said, noting that the text contains language that is inconsistent with his country’s Constitution, which stipulates that the federal Government has the sole authority to conduct foreign relations, including on behalf of United States Territories.

The Council then adopted “L.31” by a vote of 19 in favour to none against, with 26 abstentions.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that his delegation always favours the right of the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories to determine their own development.  However, the Council’s consideration of purely political issues diverts its attention from its proper functions.  His delegation abstained, as it traditionally has done in the past.

The representative of Argentina said that “L.31” must be applied in strict adherence to relevant resolutions and decisions pertaining to Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Occupied Palestinian Territory

TARIK ALAMI, Director of the Emerging and Conflict Related Issues Division of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, speaking via video-teleconference, introduced the Secretary-General’s report “Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan” (document E/2021/73).  He noted that it covers the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 and thus does not cover developments in April or May this year, including the Gaza military escalation.  Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Israel continued its measures to consolidate its control over the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he said.

The protracted Israeli occupation is detrimental to the living conditions of Palestinians and Syrians, he said, emphasizing that current trends and persistent Israeli policies will make it “almost impossible” for the Occupied Palestinian Territory to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.  Furthermore, Israel continues to employ policies contrary to international law, including some which may amount to forcible transfer and collective punishment.  Meanwhile, the COVID‑19 crisis is continuing to heighten the vulnerability of Palestinians, particularly the population of Gaza.  He concluded by saying that adherence to international law is an absolute imperative for ensuring that no party enjoys impunity and for securing justice and peace for all those living in the region.

JASON MACK (United States) said that the report reflects a pronounced anti‑Israel bias that persists in the United Nations.  It also does nothing to secure a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.  The United States is committed to a two-State solution.  However, reports such as these do nothing to promote the cause of peace or to improve the situation on the ground.

ANAT FISHER-TSIN (Israel) said that the report is founded on the principle of bias against her country.  It brings nothing new or constructive to the discussion.  The reality is that Hamas launched thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel two months ago, killing 12 people and injuring 357; that Israel cooperated with Palestinians to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, only for the Palestinian side to halt that cooperation; and that the challenges faced by Palestinian women are imposed upon them by a patriarchal Palestinian society.  The true motivation of the report is a political one, with no intention of solving Palestinian problems.  What is required going forward is a constructive discussion about what works and what will keep doors open, she said.

MHD. MAJD NAYYAL (Syria) said that Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan violates Security Council resolutions and international law.  He rejected Israeli plans to erect wind turbines in the Syrian Golan, saying it will upset the work of local farmers and undermine the ability of villages to develop themselves.  He also deplored changes to the school curriculum aimed at imposing a new identity on the inhabitants of the Syrian Golan.  He requested the United Nations to exert pressure on Israel, the occupying Power, to end its discriminatory and racist practices against the Syrian population in the occupied Golan and to uphold international law and the Geneva Conventions.

ABDULLAH M. A. ABU SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, said that his delegation is still analysing the report, but pointed out that it uses terminology that is not in compliance with United Nations resolutions which define Israel as the occupying Power.  He appealed to the international community, including the United Nations, to act immediately and collectively to adopt practical measures that will hold Israel accountable.  The Sustainable Development Goals can never be achieved in the Palestinian territory so long as the occupation continues, he said.

Regional Cooperation

ROSA MALANGO, Director of the Regional Commissions New York Office, introduced a report of the Secretary-General titled “Regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields” and its Addendum 1 (documents E/2021/15 and E/2021/15/Add.1).  She said the report illustrates how regional action is supporting countries in recovering from the COVID-19, which has hampered development and has even reversed some previous development gains.  COVID-19 has aggravated systemic socioeconomic weaknesses and unmasked deeply entrenched vulnerabilities, gaps and inequalities both between and within countries.  Against that backdrop, the report also outlines efforts to recover from the pandemic which can contribute to the advancement of the 2030 Agenda.  She noted that, given the scale of the recent challenges affecting all the world’s regions, “we must do better together” to recover.  The second part of the report provides updates on the repositioning of the United Nations development system at the regional commissions’ level.

She went on to note that Addendum 1 — subtitled “Matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention:  Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Economic Commission for Africa, Economic Commission for Europe and Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific” — contains information on the resolutions and decisions adopted or endorsed by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) at its thirty-eighth session; the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) at its fifty‑third session; the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) at its sixty-ninth session; and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) at its seventy-seventh session.

The Council then approved two decisions contained in the Secretary-General’s report, without a vote.  By the terms of draft decision I, titled “Best Practice Guidance for Effective Methane Recovery and Use from Abandoned Coal Mines”, the Council noted that, at its sixty-ninth session, ECE endorsed the Best Practice Guidance for Effective Methane Recovery and Use from Abandoned Coal Mines and recommended that the Best Practice Guidance be disseminated widely.  The Council invited Member States, international organizations and the regional commissions to consider the possibility of taking appropriate measures to ensure the application of the Best Practice Guidance in countries worldwide.

By the terms of draft decision II, titled “Updated United Nations Framework Classification for Resources”, the Council recalled that, at its sixty-ninth session, ECE endorsed the updated United Nations Framework Classification for Resources of 2019.  The Council recommended that the updated Framework be disseminated widely and invite Member States, international organizations and the regional commissions to consider the possibility of taking appropriate measures to ensure its application in countries worldwide.

The Council then deferred its consideration of two draft resolutions until 22 July.  Those were titled “Follow-up to the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean” (document E/2021/L.23/Rev.1), and “Revised terms of reference of the Inland Transport Committee” (document E/2019/15/Add.2).

Human Rights

CRAIG MOKHIBER, Chief of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), introduced the latest report of the High Commissioner.  Presenting some key highlights, he recalled that OHCHR launched a “surge initiative” aimed at operationalizing the Secretary-General’s call for a new social contract in response to galloping inequalities, a slow place of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and rising popular protests around the globe.  The surge was primarily aimed at better linking human rights with economics.  Its launch was followed, in only a few short months, by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Citing some examples of the support provided to United Nations country teams — both in the context of the pandemic, and more broadly — he said OHCHR supported the country team in Ecuador to help the country draft a COVID-19 draft emergency law and supported vulnerable groups, including indigenous people and those of Afro-descent, in accessing COVID-19 support.  In Madagascar, the surge initiative assessed and offered recommendations on the country’s mining industry and its relationship to human rights.  In Serbia, it helped provided outreach to the mostly Roma residents of more than 700 substandard housing settlements across the country, who suffered from poor access to basic services such as water and sanitation.

Implementation of and Follow-Up to Major United Nations Conferences and Summits

The Council then turned its attention to a draft resolution titled “Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011–2020” (document E/2021/L.28), approving it without a vote.

By its terms, the Council took note of the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011−2020 and expressed its deep concern at the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the world’s least developed countries.  It invited development partners, international organizations and other stakeholders to support those countries in their recovery efforts, as well as in their continued implementation of the unfulfilled agenda of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the third International Conference on Financing for Development.

In addition, the Council called for intensified international cooperation — including by fully implementing the International Health Regulations — to contain, mitigate and defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, including by exchanging information, scientific knowledge and best practices, and by applying the relevant guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).  It also noted with concern that estimates show that 80 per cent of the world’s poor will live in fragile contexts by 2030, with a majority of them living in least developed countries, and reaffirmed that the least developed countries require enhanced global support to overcome both structural challenges and the impacts of COVID-19.

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* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

For information media. Not an official record.