General Assembly, Taking Action on Reports of Its Fourth Committee, Adopts 37 Draft Resolutions, Decisions

Upon the recommendation of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), the General Assembly adopted 35 resolutions and 2 decisions today, on issues including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and decolonization.

Taking up Israeli-Palestinian issues, the Assembly adopted nine draft resolutions, all by recorded vote.  Taking up a draft titled “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)”, it adopted that text by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 5 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Nauru, Paraguay, South Sudan).

By that draft, the General Assembly urged the international community to provide or increase their contributions to UNRWA in order to address its serious financial constraints.  It also requested that the Secretary-General facilitate broad consultations with Member States, notably host countries, international financial institutions and other donors, to explore all ways and means, including voluntary and assessed contributions, to ensure sufficient, predictable and sustained funding for the duration of the Agency’s mandate.

The Assembly narrowly adopted — by a recorded vote of 91 in favour to 11 against, with 73 abstentions — a draft titled “Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories”.  By that text, the Assembly noted with deep regret the onset of the fiftieth year of Israel’s occupation.  It expressed grave concern over the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a result of unlawful Israeli practices and measures.  The Assembly condemned all illegal settlements, called for the lifting of Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, and for an end to its indiscriminate use of force and military operations against the civilian population.

Turning to decolonization questions, the Assembly adopted 21 draft resolutions and one draft decision.  Taking up a draft 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”, the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 125 in favour to none against, with 55 abstentions.  According to that text, the Assembly urged those and other United Nations entities to provide moral and material assistance, as needed, to the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

By recorded vote, the Assembly also adopted drafts on assistance to Palestine refugees; persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities; Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues; Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan; Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; as well as a resolution on the occupied Syrian Golan.  It also adopted a text on the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other occupied Arab territories.

The Assembly went on to adopt, also by recorded vote, draft resolution on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73(e) of the United Nations Charter; economic and other activities affecting the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories; and dissemination of information on decolonization.  It further adopted, by recorded vote, texts relating to implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations, as well as to implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

Closely following the Fourth Committee’s recommendations, the Assembly also adopted, without a vote, a series of annual texts relating to the decolonization of specific Non-Self-Governing Territories.  They included drafts affirming the right to self-determination for the peoples of Western Sahara, Tokelau, American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands, New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

Also without a vote, the Assembly adopted drafts relating to special political missions, atomic radiation, outer space affairs and offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

It took note of a report on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects, and another on the programme planning for the Fourth Committee.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted two decisions, one relating to the question of Gibraltar and the other to the revitalization of its own work.

Presenting Fourth Committee reports for the Assembly’s consideration was that body’s Rapporteur.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 7 December, to consider draft resolutions relating to oceans and the law of the sea, as well as sustainable fisheries.

Background

The General Assembly met this afternoon to consider reports of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) on the following agenda items:  effects of atomic radiation (document A/71/491); international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (document A/71/492); United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (document A/71/493); report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (document A/71/494); comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects (document A/71/495); and comprehensive review of special political missions (document A/71/496).

Also awaiting action were reports on:  questions relating to information (document A/71/497); information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations (document A/71/498); economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/71/499); 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/71/500); offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/71/501); implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/71/502); revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/71/503); and programme planning (document A/71/504).

Introduction of Reports

AWALE ALI KULLANE (Somalia), Rapporteur of the Fourth Committee, introduced that body’s reports, saying they contained 35 draft resolutions, 21 of which had been approved without a vote.  During the course of 23 formal meetings, the Committee had also approved, two draft decisions, also without a vote.  Recalling the high level of cooperation prevailing in the Committee, he said it had fulfilled the mandate that the General Assembly had entrusted to it, having completed its work effectively and constructively.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Assembly began by taking up a draft resolution titled “The Effects of Atomic Radiation” (document A/71/L.5), adopting it without a vote.  According to that text, the Assembly supported the intentions and plans of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation for the conduct of its programme of work, in particular its next periodic global surveys of radiation exposure.  By other terms, the Assembly requested that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) continue actively to support the Scientific Committee’s work and the dissemination of its findings, within existing resources.  It further encouraged Member States to make voluntary contributions to UNEP’s general trust fund, and to make in-kind contributions in support of the Scientific Committee.

Turning to outer space affairs, the Assembly adopted a text titled “International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space” (document A/71/492/L.2) without a vote.  By that text, the Assembly urged States that were not yet signatories to international treaties governing the uses of outer space to consider ratifying or acceding to and incorporating them into national legislation.  It also urged all States — particularly those with major space capabilities — to contribute actively to pursue the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space.

On Israeli-Palestinian issues, the Assembly adopted nine draft resolutions by recorded vote.  It first took up a draft titled “Assistance to Palestine refugees” (document A/71/493/L.7), by which it decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) until 30 June 2020.  It called upon all donors to meet the Agency’s anticipated needs, including those arising from conflict and instability in the Middle East, and from the serious socioeconomic and humanitarian situation.  The Assembly adopted that text by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 9 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Paraguay, South Sudan, United States).

Taking up a draft titled “Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities” (document A/71/493/L.8), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 166 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo).

By that text, the Assembly stressed the necessity for an accelerated return of displaced persons, and called for compliance with the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements of 13 September 1993.  In the meantime, it endorsed efforts by the Commissioner-General of UNRWA to provide humanitarian assistance, on an emergency basis and as a temporary measure, to currently displaced persons in those areas in serious need of continued assistance as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities.

Next, it took up a draft resolution titled “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)” (document A/71/493 III/L.9), adopting it by a recorded 167 votes in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 5 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Nauru, Paraguay, South Sudan).

According to that text, the General Assembly called upon Israel, the occupying Power, to ensure the safety of UNRWA personnel.  It further urged the international community to provide or increase their contributions to the Agency in order to address its serious financial constraints.  The Assembly also requested that the Secretary-General facilitate broad consultations with Member States, notably host countries, members of the Advisory Commission and other donors, as well as with international financial institutions, to explore all ways and means, including through voluntary and assessed contributions, to ensure that UNRWA was sufficiently, predictably and sustainably funded for the duration of its mandate.

Taking up a draft titled “Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues” (document A/71/493/L.10), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, South Sudan, United States), with 5 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Paraguay, Togo).

By that text, the Assembly requested that the Secretary-General take all appropriate steps, in consultation with the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, for the protection of Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel.  It called upon Israel to render all facilities and assistance to the Secretary-General in implementation of the present resolution.  It urged both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to deal with the issue of Palestine refugees’ properties and revenues within the framework of final status peace negotiations.

Next, the Assembly adopted — by a recorded vote of 91 in favour to 11 against, with 73 abstentions — a resolution titled “Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories” (document A/71/494).

By its terms, the General Assembly expressed grave concern about the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a result of unlawful Israeli practices and measures.  It condemned all illegal settlements and called for the lifting of Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, and for that country to end its indiscriminate use of force and military operations against the civilian population.

The Assembly also adopted — by a recorded 168 votes in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 6 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo) — a draft resolution titled “Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories” (document A/71/494/L.12).

By that text, the Assembly demanded that Israel accept the Convention’s de jure applicability in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, and that it comply scrupulously with its provisions.  It further called upon all High Contracting Parties to the Convention to exert all efforts to ensure respect for its provisions on the part of Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Taking up a draft titled “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/71/494/L.13), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 7 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo).

Under the terms of that text, the General Assembly condemned acts of violence, destruction, harassment, provocation and incitement by Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and called for accountability for the illegal actions perpetrated in that regard.  It demanded that Israel comply with its legal obligations in relation to the advisory opinion rendered by the International Court of Justice on 9 July 2004.

By a draft resolution titled “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” (document A/71/494/L.14), the General Assembly demanded that Israel cease all practices and actions violating the human rights of the Palestinian people, including the killing and injury of civilians, arbitrary detention and imprisonment of civilians, forced displacement, and any obstruction of humanitarian assistance, among other things.

It also called for urgent measures to ensure the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as urgent attention to the plight and rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees held in Israeli jails.  The Assembly adopted that draft by a recorded 162 votes in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Malawi, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo, Vanuatu).

The Assembly then took up a draft titled “The occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/71/494/L.15), adopting it by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 15 abstentions.  By its terms, the General Assembly called upon Israel to comply with the relevant resolutions on the occupied Syrian Golan, in particular Security Council resolution 497 (1981).  It further called upon that country to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and identity cards on Syrian citizens.

The Assembly then took note of the report “Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects” (document A/71/495).

Acting without a vote, it then adopted a draft resolution titled “Comprehensive review of special political missions” (document A/71/496/L.6), by which it requested that the Secretary-General hold regular, inclusive and interactive dialogue on overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions.  The Assembly also requested that the Secretary-General submit to its seventy-second session a report on those policy matters, including efforts towards improving expertise, effectiveness, transparency, accountability, geographical representation, gender perspective and women’s equal participation in respect of all special political missions.

Turning to questions relating to information, the Assembly then adopted, without a vote, draft resolution A titled “Information in the service of humanity” (document A/71/21, chapter IV).  By its terms, the Assembly urged all countries and United Nations system organizations to cooperate in order to reduce existing disparities in information flows by increasing communications infrastructure assistance in developing countries.  The Assembly also urged those countries to enhance regional efforts and cooperation among themselves, as well as between developed and developing countries.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly adopted the full text of draft resolution B, “United Nations public information policies and activities”, contained in the report of the Committee on Information at its thirty-seventh session (document A/71/21, chapter IV).  By that text, the Assembly emphasized the importance of all official United Nations languages and requested the inclusion of that aspect in future programme budget proposals for the Department of Public Information, bearing in mind the principle of parity among all six official languages and respecting the workload in each.

By a recorded vote of 176 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Central African Republic, France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States), the Assembly adopted draft resolution I, “Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations” (document A/71/23, chapter XIII).  By that text, it requested the administering Powers concerned to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General statistical and other technical information relating to economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories for which they were respectively responsible.

It also adopted draft resolution IV on “Economic and other activities which affect the interests of the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories” (document A/71/23, chapter XIII), by a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).  By that text, the Assembly urged the administering Powers concerned to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources, and to establish control over the future development of those resources.

The Assembly then took up draft resolution III, “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/71/23, chapter XIII), adopting it by a recorded vote of 125 in favour to none against, with 55 abstentions.  In line with that text, the Assembly urged those and other entities of the United Nations system to provide moral and material assistance, as needed, to the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Taking up a draft resolution titled “Offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories” (document A/71/501/L.3), the Assembly adopted it without a vote.

Acting without a vote, it went on to adopt draft resolutions on the Question of Western Sahara (document A/71/502/L.4), Question of Tokelau (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.60); Question of American Samoa (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.63); Question of Anguilla (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.68); Question of Bermuda (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.73); Question of the British Virgin Islands (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.77); Question of the Cayman Islands (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.81); Question of Guam (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.91); Question of Montserrat (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.91); Question of Pitcairn (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.95); Question of Saint Helena (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.99); Question of the Turks and Caicos Islands (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.104); Question of the United States Virgin Islands (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.109); Question of New Caledonia (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.114); and the Question of French Polynesia (document A/71/23, chapter XIII, p.120).

The Assembly then adopted, by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, Togo), draft resolution II, “Dissemination of information on decolonization” (document A/71/23, XVI, chapter XIII), by which the Assembly requested that the United Nations take measures to publicize its work in the field of decolonization.

By a recorded vote of 171 in favour to 5 against (Côte d’Ivoire, Israel, Morocco, United Kingdom, United States), with 4 abstentions (Colombia, France, Palau, Togo), the Assembly adopted draft resolution V, “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” (document A/71/23, chapter XIII).   By that text, the Assembly called upon administering Powers of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to continue to cooperate with the Special Committee on Decolonization in the discharge of its mandate.  It further called upon administering Powers to facilitate the Special Committee’s visiting missions to the Territories on a case-by-case basis, and to ensure that their economic and other activities in the Territories would not adversely affect their peoples’ interests but instead promote development.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted two draft decisions, one titled “Question of Gibraltar” (document A/71/503/L.17), and the other concerning the proposed programme of work and timetable for its seventy-second session (documents A/71/503/L.16).

Finally, the Assembly took note of the Fourth Committee’s report on programme planning (document A/71/504).

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