General Assembly Concludes Main Part of Seventy-first Session, Adopting 15 Texts Recommended by Fifth Committee

Resolutions on Oceans, Nuclear Disarmament, International Law, Technology Bank Also Adopted

Concluding the main part of its seventy-first session, the General Assembly today adopted 14 resolutions and 1 decision recommended by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) that tackled management and fiscal issues, as well as 11 resolutions from its plenary and First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) tackling a wide range of issues, including nuclear disarmament, oceans and international law.  

In addition to revising the Organization’s budget to $5.61 billion for the 2016-2017 biennium, the General Assembly adopted a wide-ranging human resources resolution aimed at finishing major reforms begun half dozen years ago to overhaul how tens of thousands of staff around the world were being hired, trained and paid.

The Assembly asked the Secretary-General to investigate the reasons for delays at each stage of the staff selection and recruitment process and present in his next overview report a comprehensive strategy aimed at achieving the 120-day target for filling a post.  It decided to reduce the standard posting period for position-specific job openings from 60 days to 45 days for the Professional and higher categories on a provisional basis as a pilot phase.

The Assembly also approved $639.53 million to keep the 33 special political missions of the United Nations running smoothly.  The representative of Syria, while voting in favour of the text, expressed a reservation on the allocation of resources to implement Security Council resolution 1559 (2004), stating that Mission’s Special Adviser had been acting beyond the mandate given to him in that resolution.

In another text, the Assembly called for $1.57 million gross ($1.46 million net) before recosting to continue improving the Organization’s administration of justice system — comprising of informal and formal mechanisms to resolve disputes for tens of thousands of employees worldwide.  That call had been deemed necessary after an independent review last year concluded that, despite increasing transparency, only about half of the workforce had access to the system and many were unaware of it.

Taking up the Fifth Committee report “Programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017”, several speakers addressed the contents of draft resolution I, “Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017”.  The representative of Burkina Faso, on behalf of the African Group, proposed an oral amendment, relating to protection against violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as matters around gender orientation did not have a basis in international law. 

However, the representative of Argentina, speaking on behalf of a number of like-minded States, said the proposed amendment would reopen an issue that had already been decided by the Human Rights Council, the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) and the Fifth Committee.  Voicing serious concern that the oral amendment proposed by the representative of Burkina Faso would threaten the Human Rights Council’s independence, he called for a vote, which resulted in the amendment failing to be adopted.

In other matters, the Assembly also adopted 11 resolutions, including the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) texts “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations” and “treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons”.

Addressing the adoption by recorded vote of the resolution “Oceans and the Law of the Sea”, delegates who had voted against the text emphasized that some provisions related to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which they were not signatories. 

Despite abstaining from the vote, El Salvador’s representative stressed the importance of protecting oceans and the sea and ensuring their sustainability.  Oceans were full of resources and were critical for the food security of millions.  To date, there were gaps in areas of sustainable fishing, conservation and the use of marine biodiversity.  Nonetheless, the resolution mirrored aspects of the Convention, to which his country was not a signatory.

Also adopted were several outstanding texts on issues ranging from expanded cooperation with regional organizations to the United Nations relationship with the International Criminal Court.  Among other things, it decided to establish the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries, hosted by Turkey, as its newest subsidiary body. 

Introducing that text, Assembly Vice-President Zohrab Mnatsakanyan (Armenia) declared:  “It is through mechanisms like this that the concept of leaving no one behind comes to life.”  Indeed, the resolution would contribute to building momentum for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, namely Target 17.8, which called for the full operationalization of the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017. 

As the meeting concluded, the representative of Thailand, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, underscored that the Group’s resolve to address the needs of developing countries had been challenged throughout the session.  Negotiations had been taxing and, at times, tested the path to sustainable development.  Despite that, the Group had much to be hopeful for. “Where there is a will to find compromise, there is always a way,” he said.

Also speaking today were representatives of Bangladesh, Turkey, Netherlands, Sudan, China, Russian Federation, Pakistan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Venezuela, Colombia, United States, Israel, Cuba, Iran, and Nicaragua.

The General Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia), Vice-President of the General Assembly, introduced the draft “Establishment of the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries” (document A/71/L.52), thanking those who had participated in the drafting process.  Welcoming Turkey’s offer to host the Technology Bank and its support for its establishment, he encouraged other Member States to do the same.  “It is through mechanisms like this that the concept of leaving no one behind comes to life,” he said, noting that the text would contribute to building momentum for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Target 17.8, which called for the full operationalization of the Technology Bank and the science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017.

By the terms of the text, the Assembly would establish the Technology Bank as a subsidiary organ and accept Turkey’s offer to host it.  Welcoming Turkey’s pledge to the trust fund for its operationalization, it would urge the United Nations system and other relevant organizations to support the Technology Bank and its activities, while respecting the relevant provisions of the intellectual property rights-related agreements.  Among other things, it would also request the Secretary-General to prepare a report to inform the Assembly about results achieved after the first three years of operation.

The Assembly then adopted the text without a vote.

The representative of Thailand, speaking in explanation of position on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, urged States and entities in a position to provide voluntary financial and technical assistance to the Bank to do so to ensure its timely operation.  Strengthened international development cooperation would bolster efforts aimed at reaching the requisite financial resources that remained critical to the economic and social uplifting of the least developed countries.

The representative of Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the least developed countries, said “a new organ of the General Assembly has emerged”.  For the first time in history, the Assembly had established an instrument to foster technology enhancement for least developed countries, he said.  “This is a major breakthrough and a historical moment for the United Nations,” he said.  Apart from leading to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the move also showed that least developed countries were not alone in their drive for sustainable development.  The Technology Bank would work to reduce the digital divide and help to facilitate the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries.  “This is just the beginning, he said, urging all to make efforts to mobilize resources to operationalize the Technology Bank.

The representative of Turkey said the Technology Bank’s establishment was a significant accomplishment and a manifestation of solidarity with least developed countries.  In that context, the Technology Bank would seek to build capacities and enable the transfer of critical technologies and to bridge technology gaps.  Turkey would provide facilities and services, having already contributed an initial $1 million.  Underlining that the mobilization of sustainable resources was a must, he said that while Turkey would continue to do its part, funding was a responsibility shared by all stakeholders.

Culture of Peace

The Assembly then took up a resolution titled “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/71/L.47). 

The representative of Bangladesh introduced that text, noting the Assembly’s annual adoption of the draft since 1997.  Since its 2015 adoption, two United Nations-proclaimed days of non-violence had been added alongside a reference to vulnerable children in the context of the activities of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Early Childhood Peace Consortium.  In 2016, more than 100 countries had co‑sponsored the draft, he said, expressing gratitude for their commitment and support.

By its terms, the Assembly, calling on all concerned to renew their attention to the objectives of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non‑Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), would invite Member States to continue to place greater emphasis on and expand their activities promoting a culture of peace.  It would also invite United Nations entities to integrate the eight action areas of the Programme of Action into their activities and encourage the United Nations peacebuilding architecture to continue to promote peacebuilding initiatives and to advance the culture of peace and non‑violence in country‑level post‑conflict peacebuilding efforts.  Among other things, it would request the General Assembly President to consider convening a high-level forum devoted to the implementation of the Programme of Action on the occasion of the anniversary of its adoption and invite the Secretary-General to explore mechanisms and strategies for the Programme of Action’s implementation and to submit to the Assembly at its seventy-second session a report on relevant actions taken by Member States

The Assembly then adopted that resolution without a vote.

International Criminal Court

The representative of the Netherlands, introducing the draft “Report of the International Criminal Court” (document A/71/L.49), said the text was a technical rollover of the previous consensus resolution.  Underlining the importance of the relationship between the Court and the United Nations, he recalled that the Assembly had recently heard a summary of the Court’s annual report (see Press Release 11850 of 31 October) and underscored the Netherlands’ deep commitment to fight against impunity for crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Reiterating the importance of achieving the universal ratification of the Rome Statute, he said the Court owed its existence to “empathy and the collective resolve to work together to shape our common future” and expressed hope that the text would once again be adopted by consensus.

By the terms of the text, the Assembly would welcome the Court’s latest report (document A/71/342) and the States that had become parties to the Rome Statute.  Calling on those who had not yet done so to consider ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to it without delay, the Assembly would acknowledge the Court’s role in a multilateral system that aimed to end impunity, promote the rule of law, promote and encourage respect for human rights, achieve sustainable peace and further the development of nations.  The Assembly would also call upon States parties to the Rome Statute that had not yet done so to adopt national legislation to implement obligations emanating from the instrument and to cooperate with the Court in the exercise of its functions.

Emphasizing the importance of the full implementation of all aspects of the relationship agreement between the Court and the United Nations, it would encourage further dialogue between them and welcome the increased interaction of the Security Council with the Court under various formats.  It would also encourage States to contribute to the Trust Fund established for the benefit of victims of crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction and the families of such victims.  It would also invite States to contribute to the Trust Fund for the participation of least developed countries.

The representative of Sudan, speaking in explanation of position, rejected the precedent of the Court taking legal action against States that were not parties to the Rome Statute.  The jus cogens of international law were being undermined in an effort to advance certain political interests, he said, adding that the Court was the first to disregard and violate international law and customary and written laws.  The independent and separate nature of the Court and the United Nations should be taken into account.  In that regard, he rejected all attempts to render the General Assembly “an Assembly for States parties to the Rome Statute” and disassociated his delegation from the draft currently under consideration.

The Assembly then adopted the resolution without a vote.

The representative of China, speaking in explanation of position, said that despite the text’s failure to capture the Court’s latest developments, his delegation had joined the consensus.  Over the past year, the Court had made progress, but some States parties had announced their withdrawal from the Rome Statutes, citing grave concerns over its functioning.  Urging the Court to heed the concerns of various parties in earnest and address them responsibly, he said the Court and the United Nations should cooperate while respecting each other’s mandates within applicable legal frameworks.  Expressing concern about the exclusion of observer States from participating in certain consultations by the Rome Statute Assembly of States Parties, he said that such practice was in violation of the rules of procedure and principle of transparency.

The representative of the Russian Federation expressed disappointment that the views of States that were not party to the Rome Statute were not taken into account.  Alignment with today’s realities was long overdue.  The call for its rapid ratification was inappropriate against a backdrop of several States having left the Statute.  The Russian Federation did not intend to become party to the Treaty.  Since established, the Court had only delivered four guilty verdicts costing $1 billion and there had been no new cases over the past five years.  The Court had not taken action to investigate civilian deaths resulting from North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) airstrikes or actions of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh).  The Russian Federation understood concerns that had been raised by the African Union and some of its members.  The Court had a number of problems, he said, noting that the Russian Federation dissociated itself from consensus around the draft.

The representative of Pakistan emphasized that, like other States, his country was not bound by instruments it was not party to.

Africa’s Development Agenda 2017-2027

The Assembly then turned to the draft resolution “Framework for a Renewed United Nations‑African Union Partnership on Africa’s Integration and Development Agenda 2017-2027” (document A/71/L.50).

The representative of Burkina Faso, on behalf of the African Group, introduced the draft, saying the adoption of the framework in June 2015 in South Africa had been an important stage regarding Agenda 2063.  The framework intended to promote a closer partnership between the United Nations, the African Union and subregional organizations in the face of violence, migration and other issues.  Calling for strong backing of the partnership, she expressed gratitude to all who had supported and co-sponsored the draft.

By its terms, the Assembly would take note of the 2015 decision of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in which they requested that the United Nations take the necessary measures to further enhance cooperation, especially in implementing Agenda 2063.  Welcoming the joint decision during the fifteenth session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa to formulate a successor to the 2006 United Nations‑African Union 10‑year capacity‑building programme, the Assembly would call upon relevant United Nations entities to align their programmes and activities with the priorities enshrined in the framework and call upon Africa’s bilateral and multilateral partners and the international community to lend full support to its implementation.

The Assembly adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

The representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic introduced the draft “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)” (document A/71/L.44/Rev.1) on behalf of ASEAN.  The United Nations and regional organizations had unique and complementary capacities with great potential to help Member States address the global issues of common interest to bolster peace, security and sustainable development.  Describing the history of United Nations‑ASEAN cooperation, he said the draft had first been introduced in 2002 and tabled biennially.  Today’s draft was based on the 2014 version, but contained updates reflecting some recent important developments.

By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations and ASEAN to develop the partnership, as described in the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 27 September 2007, and welcome the recent adoption of the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United Nations (2016‑2020).  The Assembly would encourage the United Nations to continue to work closely with ASEAN in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Community Vision 2025.  It would also encourage the United Nations to ensure that regional ASEAN efforts reinforced the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals through creating a road map, activities and projects.

The Assembly, by the draft, would further encourage cooperation between the two organizations in the exchange of expertise, best practices, lessons learned and experiences in countering terrorism and radicalization.  It would also encourage cooperation in the fields of human rights, environmental sustainability and climate change.  Additionally, it would encourage them to explore measures to further the effective and timely implementation of joint activities under the Plan of Action.

The Assembly then adopted the resolution without a vote.

International Tribunal

The Assembly then turned to “International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991” (document A/71/L.53), adopting it without a vote.

By its terms, the General Assembly decided to extend the terms of office of the seven permanent judges of the Tribunal who were members of the Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber until 30 November 2017, or until the completion of the cases to which they were or would be assigned, if sooner.  The seven permanent judges were Carmel A. Agius (Malta), Liu Daqun (China), Christoph Flügge (Germany), Theodor Meron (United States), Bakone Melema Moloto (South Africa), Alphonsus Martinus Maria Orie (Netherlands) and Fausto Pocar (Italy).

The Assembly, by the text, took note of the reappointment of Serge Brammertz as Prosecutor of the Tribunal, for a term with effect from 1 January 2017 until 30 November 2017, subject to earlier termination by the Security Council upon the completion of the work of the Tribunal.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), took action on a number of outstanding draft resolutions this evening.

Acting without a vote, it first adopted the draft resolution “New Urban Agenda” (document A/71/L.23), by which it endorsed the New Urban Agenda that had been adopted by the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), annexed to the present text.  The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, were contained in a related report (document A/71/713).

It then adopted the draft “Oceans and the Law of the Sea” (document A/71/L.26), by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 2 against (Turkey, Venezuela) with 2 abstentions (Colombia, El Salvador).  The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, were contained in a related report (document A/71/714).

The representative of Venezuela, speaking in explanation of position, said her country was not a signatory to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.  In the draft, wording of certain paragraphs on the delimitations of marine areas and coastlines were not acceptable and certain parts reproduced articles of the Convention.  Other international instruments served as legal instruments for the law of the sea.  The Convention did not have universal participation and other multilateral conventions had more signatories.  While the draft contained positive aspects, for the above reasons Venezuela had voted against it.  Parts of the Convention must be updated, she said, emphasizing the need to address matters of the ocean and the sea in an inclusive way.

The representative of Turkey said that while his country agreed with the draft’s general content, it had called for a vote due to references to the Convention.  Turkey was not party to the Convention, which was not a universal instrument.  Emphasizing that the Convention was not the only legal framework that regulated all related activities, he expressed hope that all parties would display a more constructive and flexible approach to take all non-parties on board during future negotiations.  The Convention did not provide sufficient safeguards for special geographical situations and, as a consequence, did not consider conflicting interests stemming from special circumstances.

The representative of Colombia said his delegation had abstained from voting.  Colombia was a diverse nation devoted to sustainable development and biological diversity, with a strong institutional framework on marine and coastal matters.  Recognizing the valuable contribution of the draft, he said the Convention was not the sole normative framework governing oceans and the sea.  All nations had a commitment to protect oceans as the sustainability of the world depended on it.

The representative of El Salvador emphasized the ocean’s importance, particularly in terms of guaranteeing food security for millions of people.  To date, however, there were gaps in areas of sustainable fishing, conservation and the use of marine biodiversity.  Despite global progress, much remained to be done.  El Salvador was not a party to the Convention and supported provisions that considered general international law and norms.  Provisions must not create obligations for States who were not party to the Convention, he added, inviting all States to continue to work together to protect the ocean.  There were living and non-living resources on the seabed and the use of those resources should be shared fairly and equally to benefit all, particularly developing countries.

The representative of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, on L.23, said sustainable urban development could be a key driver of addressing quality of life issues and equity.  He reiterated his unwavering commitment in implementing and review of the Urban Agenda and the independent assessment and the position of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) being discussed.

The representative of the United States welcomed consensus on L.23, urging all partners to work together to make the pledge a reality.  She reiterated concern regarding the topic of a “right to development”, which did not have an agreed international meaning.  Any discussions must focus on aspects of development that related to human rights, which were universal and must be upheld for all.  The United States supported the right for an adequate standard of living, including housing.  Her delegation had joined consensus with the understanding that the New Urban Agenda did not imply that States must implement obligations under human rights instruments that they were not party to, namely the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  Any unintended interpretation of the term “equitable” must be avoided, as it could lead to discriminatory practices.

She said that where the United States had applied economic sanctions, it aimed to promote the return to the rule of law and prevent threats to international peace and security.  She supported the two-State solution and pledged to work with the Palestinian Authority to improve the lives of ordinary people.  The New Agenda was not legally binding and did not change the current state of conventional or customary international law.

The Assembly then turned to the report on general and complete disarmament (document A/71/450) containing draft resolutions that had been recommended by its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), taking action on two outstanding drafts containing programme budget implications.

Taking up draft resolution XXVI on “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations”, the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 113 in favour to 35 against, with 13 abstentions.  By the draft, the Assembly decided to convene a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.  The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, were contained in a related report (document A/71/710).

It then adopted, by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 2 against (Italy, Pakistan), with 9 abstentions (Burundi, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), draft resolution XLI on a “treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons”.  In doing so, it requested the Secretary-General to establish a high-level preparatory group on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, were contained in a related report (document A/71/711).

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft “Investigation into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and the members of the party accompanying him” (document A/71/L.25).  The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, were contained in a related report (document A/71/712).

The Assembly then turned to a number of draft resolutions recommended to it by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

DIANA MINYI LEE (Singapore), Committee Rapporteur, introduced the texts and provided an overview of its work.  (For more information, see Press Release GA/AB/4224).

Based on a recommendation contained in the report “Appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments:  appointments of members of the Committee on Contributions” (document A/71/590/Add.1), the Assembly decided to appoint Baudelaire Ndong Ella (Gabon) to a three-year term of office on the Committee on Contributions, beginning on 1 January 2017.

Also without a vote, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution on financial reports and audited financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/702) and the draft “Pattern of conferences”, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/706).

Turning to a draft resolution contained in a report (document A/71/638/Add.1), the Assembly adopted, without a vote, the draft on “Human resources management”, which covered seven areas:  human resources management reform (I); mobility (II); assessment of desirable ranges (III); composition of the Secretariat (IV); practice of the Secretary-General in disciplinary matters and possible criminal behaviour (V); amendments of the Staff Regulations and Rules (VI); and activities of the Ethics Office (VII).

Acting without a vote, it adopted drafts on “United Nations common system”, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/709), and another on “United Nations pension system”, contained in a separate report (document A/71/701).

The draft “Administration of justice at the United Nations”, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/707), was also adopted without a vote.

Turning to the financing of the International Tribunals, the Assembly first adopted, without a vote, the draft “Financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994”, as contained in a Committee report (document A/71/705).

Also without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft “Financing of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991”, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/703).

Next, the draft “Financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals”, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/704), was adopted without a vote.

Taking up a draft resolution contained in the Committee report “Administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations” (document A/71/708), the Assembly adopted, without a vote, the text on “Review of the United Nations Office to the African Union”.

It then adopted a draft resolution titled “Financing of United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI)”, as contained in a Committee report of the Fifth Committee (document A/71/715), without a vote.

Turning to the Committee report “Programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017”, the Assembly first took up draft resolution I on “Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017”.

The representative of Burkina Faso proposed an oral amendment on behalf of the African Group, relating to protection against violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The representative of Argentina, speaking on behalf of a number of like-minded States, called for a vote on the proposed amendment.  The proposed amendment would reopen an issue that had already been decided by the Human Rights Council, the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) and the Fifth Committee.  The amendment would threaten the Human Rights Council’s independence.

By a recorded vote of 65 in favour to 81 against, with 15 abstentions, the Assembly rejected the proposed amendment.

The representative of Israel proposed a separate oral amendment to the same text, which was rejected by a recorded vote of 7 in favour (Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States) to 148 against, with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras).

The representative of Cuba, speaking in explanation of position, said his delegation did not believe it was appropriate to undermine the draft’s funding.  Cuba would vote against Israel’s proposed amendment.

The representative of Sudan, speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, echoed that sentiment.

The representative of Cuba said his delegation had long maintained a principled position that there was no intergovernmental agreement on the term “responsibility to protect”.  Expressing concern that resources related to the Secretary-General’s special adviser on that concept were “mixed up” with those financing the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide — which his delegation supported — he proposed an oral amendment to several of the text’s preambular and operative paragraphs.

The representative of Iran said his country had always supported the United Nations activities as long as they fell within the bounds of its rules and regulations and international law.  While supporting the role of the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, the concept of the responsibility to protect was still under consideration by the Assembly.  It was therefore not acceptable for the limited resources of the United Nations to be allocated to that issue, he said, adding that Iran would vote in favour of Cuba’s proposed amendment.

The representative of Nicaragua said any definition of the responsibility to protect must be based on the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States.  In that regard, he stressed that budgetary estimates related to the special adviser on that issue must be eliminated.  His delegation would thus support the proposed amendment.

By a recorded vote of 26 in favour to 84 against, with 45 abstentions, the Assembly rejected the proposed amendment.

The representative of Burkina Faso, speaking in explanation of position on behalf of the African Group, expressed regret over the results of the vote.  The budgetary implications could lead to activities related to gender orientation, which did not have a basis in international law.  The African Group was gravely concerned about that, she said, reiterating its position of disassociating itself from certain Human Rights Council resolutions.  The African Group had a right to take the necessary steps to have national legislation respected, she said.

The representative of Cambodia welcomed the adoption of the draft related to the Courts of Cambodia.  The support would allow the Courts to continue to try senior leaders and those who were responsible for the crimes that had been committed against the Cambodian people wherein 1.7 million had been executed, starved to death and tortured from April 1975 to January 1979.  Since 2013, the Courts had experienced a funding shortfall for its national and international components.  For those components, it had been estimated the total funds required for 2017 would be $30.13 million.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted draft resolution I on “Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017” as a whole.

Draft resolution II on “Programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017” was also adopted without a vote.

The representative of Syria, explaining his delegation’s position on the issue of special political missions, said it had voted in favour of the text.  However, he expressed a reservation on the allocation of resources to implement Security Council resolution 1559 (2004).  The Special Adviser on Syria had been acting beyond his mandate, he said, stressing that he had overlooked Israel’s failure to implement its obligations under the resolution.  He also expressed reservations over the allocation of financial resources to certain “politicized” Human Rights Council resolutions.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2018-2019” and the draft decision “Questions deferred for future consideration”, both contained in a Committee report (document A/71/717).

The Assembly then turned to the report of the Secretary-General on “Findings and recommendations of the Interim Independent Assessment Panel on the system of administration of justice at the United Nations, and revised estimates relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017” (document A/71/163).  Acting on a recommendation contained in the report, the Assembly decided to extend the terms of office of three ad litem judges of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal for the period 1 January to 31 December 2017.  They were:  Rowan Downing (Australia), Alessandra Greceanu (Romania) and Nkemdilim Amelia Izuako (Nigeria).

The representative of Thailand delivered a statement on behalf of the Group of 77.  The Group’s resolve to address the needs of developing countries had been challenged throughout the session.  While negotiations had been taxing at times, there was much to be hopeful for.  “Where there is a will to find compromise, there is always a way,” he said.

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