Draft Resolution Stressing Importance of Overcoming Silos in Sustainable Development among 15 Texts Approved by Second Committee

The General Assembly would stress the importance of overcoming silos in sustainable development by the terms of a draft resolution approved by recorded vote, one of 15 draft resolutions taken up today by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).

The text, titled “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” was approved by a recorded vote of 113 in favour to 42 against, with 8 abstentions (Australia, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland, Turkey).

By its terms, the General Assembly would also stress the importance of seeking innovative and coordinated approaches in integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development — economic, social and environmental — at the global, regional and national levels, and request the Organization to further mainstream and integrate the three dimensions throughout the United Nations system.

Canada’s representative, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that it did not support the resolution and had abstained, noting profound concerns regarding the relevance of the text as well as the attempt to position it as a follow-up mechanism.

On the other hand, Thailand’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed regret that consensus could not be reached, stressing that it had tried to explain, to no avail, the value of the resolution.  Expressing worry and surprise at the lack of cooperation of some groups, she said that the issues of sustainable consumption and production remained unaddressed.

That draft resolution was one of several on sustainable development, the remainder of which were all approved by consensus.  Also without a vote, three draft texts were approved relating to macroeconomic policy questions.  By the terms of one such draft text, titled “Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows in order to foster sustainable development”, the General Assembly would reiterate its deep concern about the impact of illicit financial flows on the economic, social and political stability and development of societies.

Further, it would have the General Assembly urge Member States that had not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto.

Also today, the Committee took up a draft resolution titled “International migration and development”.  By its terms, the General Assembly would emphasize the need to respect and promote international labour standards, as appropriate, and to respect the rights of migrants in their workplaces, including appropriate measures for the protection of women migrant workers in all sectors, including those involved in domestic work.

Further by that draft text, the Assembly would strongly condemn the acts, manifestations and expressions of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against migrants and the stereotypes often applied to them, including on the basis of nationality, religion or belief, urging States to apply or reinforce laws when xenophobic or intolerant acts, manifestations or expressions against migrants occurred.  The Assembly would also decide to hold the third High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in the first half of 2019.  That draft resolution was approved without a vote.

Other drafts approved by the Committee touched on topics as varied as information and communications technologies for development, follow-up to the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, industrial development cooperation and South-South cooperation for development.

Also speaking today were representatives of Kenya, United States, Nigeria, South Africa, Iran, Ethiopia, Australia, Spain, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Slovenia, Venezuela, Bulgaria, Guyana, Chile, France, Morocco, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway, Japan, Mexico.  A representative of the European Union also addressed the Committee.

The Committee will meet during the week of 12 December at a time and date to be announced to take action on outstanding drafts.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The representative of the European Union expressed concern about edits made to some of the resolutions which created unnecessary stress and affected the substance of the draft.  Agreed language was vague and “not Shakespeare language”, but that was on purpose.  He encouraged the Secretariat not to reopen the substance of texts.

The Second Committee then approved without a vote a text on “Information and communications technologies for development” (document A/C.2/71/L.44).

The Committee then took note of the Secretary-General's transmittal of the report of the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on communication for development programmes in the United Nations system (document A/71/307).

Next the Committee took up “Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows in order to foster sustainable development” (document A/C.2/71/L.54).

The representative of Kenya made an oral revision to preambular paragraph 8 of the text.  The Committee then approved that text, thus revised, without a vote.

Speaking in explanation of position after approval, the representative of the United States said that while it was critical to address money laundering and tax evasion, his delegation was disappointed that the current text diluted attention by raising those issues in the already overcrowded Second Committee agenda.  Cautioning against substantive debates on highly technical topics in future years, he called on the Committee to instead collaborate with bodies that had the expertise to deal with those issues.

The representative of Nigeria expressed enthusiasm at the approval of the resolution, calling it “the first baby-step” in the struggle to combat illicit financial flows.  Such illegal actions reduced domestic resources and the revenue needed to fund poverty eradication programmes.  While there was an ongoing global discussion on the scope and definition of illicit financial flows, it was necessary to condemn and combat all illegal activities that constituted impediments to development.

The representative of South Africa said that the resolution created an opportunity for global discourse on the subject of illicit financial flows.  Combating illegal movements of money was a priority for the African continent to achieve sustainable growth.  The fight against illicit financial flows should be at the forefront of international efforts related to development financing.

The Committee then turned to macroeconomic policy questions, taking up a draft titled “International trade and development” (document A/C.2/71/L.57).  The representative of Iran introduced two oral revisions to that text; the first contained in operative paragraph 11, the second in operative paragraph 27.

The Committee then approved the amended text.  By its terms, the General Assembly would strongly urge States to refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations, that impeded the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries.

After the approval, speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the United States expressed disappointment at the flawed and inappropriate language in the text, dissociating from consensus on operative paragraph 8.  He noted that the resolution did not affect potential constraints under international law nor did it affect rights of States to take trade measures.  Regarding operative paragraph 6, he said it was flawed because it omitted other World Trade Organization (WTO) decisions.  All decisions by that body had been agreed to by all its members and none of them should be diminished.  The choice of language in operative paragraph 6 seemed driven by a political agenda and was regrettable.

Next the Committee took up a draft resolution on “International financial system and development” (document A/C.2/71/L.58).  The Chair informed the Committee that the draft contained no budget implications.

The representative of Ethiopia said that the Bureau had informed him that there was an agreement to drop the reference to “countries under foreign occupation” in three draft resolutions, including the current text.  He also made an oral revision to preambular paragraph 12.

Speaking in explanation after approval of the text, the representative of the United States said that several paragraphs in the text were unclear or inappropriate.  The current text did not affect States’ rights under international law.  While his delegation endorsed universal access to open and transparent markets, it was necessary to avoid unintended interpretation of the word “equitable” in the text.  Economic sanctions were a successful and legitimate means for achieving foreign policy objectives and he regretted the reference to “unilateral economic measures” in the text.

Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution titled “Effective global response to address the impacts of the El Niño phenomenon” (document A/C.2/71/L.39), approving the text without a vote.

Turning to the text on “Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its contribution to sustainable development” (document A/C.2/71/L.42), the Committee approved that text without a vote.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled “Report of the United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme” (document A/C.2/71/L.45).

The representative of Costa Rica thanked all delegations and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) secretariat.  He called attention to preambular paragraph 10 which pertained to language relating to the Paris Agreement, and made oral revisions.  The Committee approved that text without a vote.

The Committee then approved without a vote a draft resolution titled “Harmony with Nature” (document A/C.2/71/L.8).

Next, the Committee took up a draft resolution titled “Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” (document A/C.2/71/L.40).  The representative of Slovenia, thanking the editors for their diligence, noted that their corrections went beyond the agreements made during the informal consultations.  She went on to make several oral revisions, including to preambular paragraph 6, amending it to reflect the Paris Agreement.

Making a statement after the approval, the representative of Venezuela said that while the text of the resolution reflected many principles important to the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, her delegation did not support the reference to the initiative entitled Energy for All, because that item was produced without a mandate from all Member States.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled “International migration and development” (document A/C.2/71/L.48).  The Secretary made a statement regarding programme budget implications.

Making a statement after approval, the representative of the United States, noting that migration had enriched his nation, said that the text did not change his country’s obligations under treaty international law.  Stressing that private financial institutions determined remittance transfer prices, he said that the United States was fully committed to upholding the human rights of all people.  Referring to operative paragraph 26, which urged States to take measures to prevent violent hate crimes against migrants, he said that it must be interpreted in the light of robust international protections for the freedom of expression.

The Committee then approved a text titled “Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries” (document A/C.2/71/L.52).

The Committee took note of the Secretary-General’s transmittal of the draft Charter of the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries (document A/71/363).

Next, the Committee took up a draft resolution titled “Industrial development cooperation” (document A/C.2/71/L.49) with the representative of Guyana making some oral revision to the text.  The Committee approved that text without a vote.

The representative of the United States said that the references to the transfer of technology must be understood in the light of strong protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.  His delegation understood the reference to transfer to mean voluntary transfer.

Turning to the text titled “Disaster risk reduction” (document A/C.2/71/L.43), the Committee heard from the representative of Chile, who introduced an oral revision to operative paragraph 9.  That text, approved without a vote, would have the General Assembly urge the effective implementation of the Sendai Declaration and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

The Committee then took up the text on “Protection of global climate for present and future generations” (document A/C.2/71/L.51).  The representative of France introduced an oral revision to its preambular paragraph 3, and the Committee went on to approve it without a vote.

Next, the Committee turned to a draft resolution titled “South-South cooperation” (document A/C.2/71/L.61), hearing from the Secretary, who made a statement about its programme budget implications.  The representative of Morocco made an oral revision to operative paragraph 30, and the representative of the Czech Republic made an oral revision to paragraph 27.  The Committee then approved that text.

Speaking in explanation of position after approval, the representative of the United States said his country supported the assistance and cooperation among developing countries and in that context, had joined consensus.  However, he noted that it had recently emerged that some individuals in and outside the United Nations had engaged in wrongdoing related to South-South cooperation work and had made use of it for personal gain.  Audits had revealed weaknesses in how the Organization carried out that work including ill-defined reporting lines and a lack of transparency.  Some key recommendations of that audit remained outstanding.  He asked for a comprehensive review by the Secretary-General on the Organization’s South-South work, in consultation with the audit professionals and raised the possibility of appointing a special representative for that topic.

The Committee turned next to the draft resolution on “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” (document A/C.2/71/L.19/Rev.1).

That text was approved by a recorded vote of 113 in favour to 42 against, with 8 abstentions (Australia, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland and Turkey).

Making a statement after the vote, the representative of Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the bloc’s member States had voted against the text because the annual consideration of the resolution on Agenda 21 was not justified.  While Agenda 21 had helped shape fundamental elements of the 2030 Agenda and had guided the international community in carrying out the vision that stemmed from the Rio conference, he said “We do not need a reminder of the importance of Agenda 21.”  It was directing resources away from the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Norway expressed regrets about not reaching consensus on the text during informal consultations though they were cordial and constructive.  Thanking fellow negotiators, she said that disagreement on the last two paragraphs prevented Norway from supporting the draft.  Agenda 21 had been of vital importance in previous years.  Since that job had been fulfilled, there was no need to revisit the resolution on an annual basis.  She highlighted “the good spirit” and the flexibility showed by negotiating partners on other resolutions.

The representative of Japan said that the United Nations must now stand together in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Agenda 21 had finished its role and should be terminated.

The representative of the United States said that his delegation was compelled to call for a vote on the current resolution because it undermined the Organization’s ability to focus on pressing challenges.  The Committee must become a vital forum to address global development priorities instead of expending limited time and resources that reiterated prior political agreements.  As the architecture and the underlying framework for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals were already established, there was no credible reason to continue with Agenda 21.

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that it did not support the resolution and had abstained.  There were profound concerns regarding the relevance of the resolution as well as the attempt to position it as a follow-up mechanism.  Though he saluted the efforts by the facilitator and the lead negotiator, he said the Second Committee risked sliding into irrelevance if it did not critically examine the roster of resolutions that made up its agenda.

Making a general statement, the representative of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 said that the Committee must continue to work on the unfinished business of Agenda 21.  It was regrettable that consensus could not be reached on the resolution just approved because of its periodicity, and the attempt to bring revitalization into the substantive work of the Committee.  The Group of 77 had tried to explain to no avail the value of the resolution, highlighting crucial elements.  Expressing surprise and concern at the lack of cooperation of some groups, she said that the issues of sustainable consumption and production remained unaddressed.

The representative of Mexico said that while voting showed that there were irreconcilable elements in the resolution, delegations had participated actively and flexibly.

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