General Assembly Adopts Six Resolutions, Including Texts on Global Economic Governance, Multilingualism, Wildlife Protection, Eradicating Malaria

Concluding the work of its seventy-first session, the General Assembly adopted six resolutions this morning, including one relating to global economic governance.

The Assembly adopted that resolution, titled “the United Nations in global economic governance” (document A/71/L.90), by a recorded vote of 86 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 42 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly reiterated the need for inclusive, transparent and effective multilateral approaches to managing global challenges, and reaffirmed the central role of the United Nations system in ongoing efforts to find common solutions.

Introducing the text, Ecuador’s representative reiterated, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the need for multilateral, transparent and inclusive approaches to global challenges.

Some delegates commended the resolution for its effort to strengthen the United Nations system.  South Africa’s speaker said his delegation supported all such efforts, pointing out that the resolution highlighted the role of the United Nations in global economic governance, particularly in the context of the General Assembly, and was in line with the United Nations Charter.  In a similar vein, some speakers, including Liechtenstein’s representative, pledged to continue to advocate for the Organization’s role in multilateralism.

Others shared concerns about several elements, with the representative of the United States calling the resolution duplicative and not a productive use of United Nations resources.  The United States was unable to accept the language in the document, particularly portions focusing on the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Because it was unacceptable for United Nations documents to opine on issues related to the WTO independent mandate or processes that took place within it, he was unable to accept attempts to strengthen the role of the United Nations in global economic governance institutions, as the United Nations did not have the expertise to evaluate the effectiveness or degree of coherence between such institutions.  Disappointed with the negotiated outcome, he said he hoped all Member States would support the Secretary-General’s call to focus on substance.

Japan’s representative said the timing of the negotiations were problematic due to their late start.  Further, the negotiations were duplicative, as most elements already being negotiated in other fora, he said, adding that it was a pity that the proposal to allow for the negotiations to be postponed to a later date had not been considered.

Similarly, Estonia’s representative, on behalf of the European Union, Canada and Australia, expressed deep regret that the text had been submitted for consideration so late in the session.  In addition, during negotiations, some delegations had failed to adequately reflect on the adoption of agreements, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  While the European Union had been willing to compromise on the final draft and accommodate the concerns of certain delegations, it had decided to abstain from the vote.

Singapore’s delegate said he was deeply disappointed at the lack of consensus on the text, particularly since it had enjoyed strong regional support.  Today’s outcome should be of great concern for all, he added, emphasizing that the United Nations was the only fully inclusive world body with unquestioned legitimacy.  He also emphasized the importance of the Group of 20 interacting with the United Nations through more institutionalized, predictable and regular channels.

The Assembly also adopted a draft resolution titled “consolidating gains and accelerating efforts to control and eliminate malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa, by 2030” (document A/71/L.89), which was introduced by the representative of Swaziland, speaking on behalf of African States.  Concerned that Africa remained home to the largest number of malaria incidents, he said that despite remarkable gains, there were still 200 million cases worldwide.  Ending the scourge required strengthening weak health systems and dealing with insecticide resistance.  African partners had mobilized funds to scale up malaria resistance through various steps, he continued, underscoring the need to send a strong message to funding partners, which the text did.

By terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly called on Member States to provide universal access to existing life-saving tools for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria.  Urging the international community to work in a spirit of cooperation, the Assembly also stressed the importance of improved community-based systems to control malaria.

The Assembly also called on Member States to promote access to medicines, and for malaria-endemic countries to assure favourable conditions for research institutions and the international community to support ways to expand access to affordable, effective and safe products and treatment.  The international community must also support the strengthening of health systems, national pesticide and pharmaceutical policies and national drug and pesticide regulatory authorities to fight against the trade in falsified products.

The representative of the United States said her Government remained committed to ending the scourge of malaria, and for over a decade, had been the largest source of bilateral support and the largest contributor to the Global Fund.  The emergence and potential spread of multi-drug-resistant and insecticide‑resistant malaria vectors was a threat to global health security requiring immediate action, which included strengthening capacity for effective use of existing drugs and insecticides.  Additional major funding would require significant external, as well as in-country resource mobilization to combat the scourge, she said, calling on affected countries to increase their financial and human resource commitments.

Continuing, she pointed out several elements of the text.  Regarding the “right to health” language contained in operative paragraph 21, she said the United States interpreted references to the obligations of States as applicable only to the extent they had assumed such obligations.  She also noted that it was not appropriate for a United Nations document to speak to ongoing and future work of WTO and to undermine its independent mandate.  The article 331 amendment in operative paragraph 33 was inaccurate, she continued, adding that the United States had to disassociate itself from that paragraph and that the inclusion of such language did not serve as a basis for future negotiations.

Adopting a draft resolution titled “multilingualism” (document A/71/L.86), introduced by Burkina Faso’s representative, the Assembly emphasized the paramount importance of the equality of the six official languages of the United Nations and called on the Secretary-General to continue to develop the network of focal points that support the Coordinator for Multilingualism ineffectively and consistently implementing relevant resolutions.  It also reaffirmed that the primary mission of the Department of Public Information was to provide, through its outreach activities, accurate, impartial, comprehensive, balanced and multilingual information to the public on the tasks and responsibilities of the United Nations.

Further by the text, the Assembly urged the Secretary-General to strengthen his efforts to develop, maintain and update multilingual United Nations websites and the webpage in all official languages.  It also urged the Secretariat to keep iSeek up to date in the two working languages and continue to translate all peacekeeping training documents into the six official languages.

The representative of Peru, speaking on behalf of more than 20 Spanish‑speaking countries, highlighted several elements, including the operational nature of multilingualism.  Noting that the text examined the cross-cutting nature of multilingualism and called for more updated information to be provided and a feedback loop on the use of languages in the Secretariat, he said he would have liked to see a section on the Sustainable Development Goals.  Despite that, the Group was always constructive, flexible and fully prepared to achieve consensus.

Israel’s delegate said Hebrew, Arabic and English did not even begin to cover the languages spoken in Israel, and in the public sphere, all the signs, including road signs, official publications and Government ministry website, were all in three languages and the multicultural nature of Israeli society was embedded in its education system.  Over several decades, Israel had absorbed waves of immigrants, receiving people from Europe, South America, Africa and the Middle East, and believed in the promotion and preservation of different languages.

In other matters, the representative of Haiti introduced a draft resolution titled “cooperation between the United Nations and the Caribbean Community” (document A/71/L.87) on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), noting that the text reflected the shared values, joint understanding and steadfast commitment of CARICOM in addressing all major international challenges.

By terms of that text, the Assembly called on the Secretary-General to continue to assist in furthering the development and maintenance of peace and security within the Caribbean region.  It also called on the United Nations and its agencies to intensify their assistance to those States to enable them to address the diverse challenges that those vulnerabilities pose to achieving sustainable development.

The representative of the United States stressed that nothing in the outcomes or indicators contained in the resolution created or affected States’ rights or obligations under international law.  Access to banking services should be addressed through dialogue in existing fora, he said, underlining the importance of continuing to monitor the situation with Caribbean partners, including with regard to access to international banking systems.  Institutions such as the multilateral development banks should target concessional financing for the poorest countries, with access decreasing as a country’s economic situation improved.

Introducing a resolution titled “tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife” (document A/71.L.88), the representative of Gabon noted that poaching was the fourth most prevalent type of trafficking in the world after drugs, money and humans, generating almost $20 billion annually, fuelling extremist groups and destabilizing many States, particularly in Africa.  No nation could overcome the phenomenon alone, he said, emphasizing a need for concerted action.  The resolution presented an opportunity to establish a global mechanism that considered all the dimensions of the phenomenon.  Further, the resolution called on Member States to take decisive measures to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit trafficking in wildlife; both in supply and demand countries.

By the text, the Assembly called upon Member States to amend national legislation so that crimes connected to the illegal wildlife trade were treated as predicate offences to allow related assets to be seized, confiscated and disposed of.  The Assembly also called upon Member States to prohibit, prevent and counter any form of corruption that facilitated illicit trafficking in wildlife and related items and to ensure that legal domestic markets were not used to make the trade in illegal products.

The representative of Germany recalled that since the adoption of the General Assembly’s first resolution on the illegal trafficking of wildlife, there had been increased global awareness of the phenomenon, including through improved resource protection and seizures along major trade routes.  Still, such activities continued to inflict irreversible damage to biodiversity and threatened local economic development, he said, stressing that persistent challenge regarding the link between corruption and the illegal wildlife trade.  The recognition of the role of cybercrime in the illegal trade in wildlife was of great importance, he said, adding that the resolution strengthened and promoted ways to achieve sustainable livelihoods in local communities.

Adopting a draft resolution titled “appointment of members of the Joint Inspection Unit” (document A/71/1018), the Assembly appointed Keiko Kamoika (Japan) to the Joint Inspection Unit for a two-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2019.  Mr. Kamoika was appointed following the resignation of Rajab Sukayri (Jordan).

The Assembly also deferred action on a number of its agenda items to its seventy-second session.

The Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. to close its seventy-first session.

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