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General Assembly Takes Action on Second Committee Reports by Adopting 41 Texts, also Passes Overhaul of United Nations Peace, Security Pillar

Increasing Official Development Assistance, Updating Bank Policies to Support 2030 Agenda among Resolutions Approved

Gearing up to implement the international community’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the General Assembly today adopted 41 resolutions and two related decisions aimed at strengthening nations’ efforts to reach agreed goals.

At the meeting’s outset, the Assembly also adopted, without a vote, a resolution on restructuring the United Nations peace and security pillar, presenting what several delegates described as “sweeping” proposals to overhaul it.

By the resolution’s terms, the Assembly took note of a Secretary‑General’s report containing five proposals, including the creation of a single political‑operational structure under Assistant Secretaries‑General with regional responsibilities, and establishment of a “Standing Principals’ Group” of the Under‑Secretaries‑General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and for Peace Operations.

Focusing then on the Second Committee, the Assembly turned to macroeconomic policy questions, adopting a resolution on international financial system and development in a recorded vote of 180 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly stressed that development banks should make optimal use of their resources and balance sheets, updating their policies to support of the 2030 Agenda.

By further terms, the Assembly committed to substantially curb illicit financial flows by 2030 by combating tax evasion, transnational organized crime and corruption through strengthened national regulation and increased international cooperation and reducing opportunities for tax avoidance.

Adopting another resolution on external debt sustainability and development, the Assembly stressed creditor and debtor responsibility in avoiding build‑up of unsustainable debt to diminish the risk of crisis.  By further terms, it urged countries to direct resources freed by debt relief to sustained economic growth and internationally agreed development goals.

By a resolution on commodities, adopted in a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions, the Assembly directed the international community to address factors creating structural barriers to international trade, impeding diversification and limiting access to financial services.  By other terms, it called on relevant stakeholders to address low industrialization and diversification of economies of some commodity‑dependent developing countries.

Other resolutions on macroeconomic policy questions concerned unilateral economic measures, international trade, financial inclusion, illicit financial flows and financing for development.

Focusing on special groups of countries, the Assembly adopted a draft on Follow‑up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.  By that text, the Assembly underlined the urgent need to reverse the decline in official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries, urging nations that had not met commitments to increase their contribution and make concrete efforts towards ODA targets.

By another resolution on Development cooperation with middle‑income countries, it encouraged shareholders in multilateral development banks to develop a graduation process (from a nation’s lesser developed status) that was sequenced, phased and gradual.

Addressing sustainable development, the Assembly adopted several resolutions, including one on disaster risk reduction, emphasizing that preventing and reducing such risk would provide exponential returns and significantly curtail response costs.  It also emphasized the importance of increasing the availability of multi‑hazard early warning mechanisms in ensuring early action.

According to another draft, the Assembly called for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, adopting it in a recorded vote of 183 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Venezuela).  It also called on Governments to expand the use of renewable energy beyond the power sector to industry, heating and cooling, infrastructure and the transport sector.

Adopting a further draft on combating sand and dust storms, it recognized that such weather had inflicted substantial economic, social and environmental damage on the inhabitants of the world’s arid, semi‑arid and dry subhumid areas, underscoring the need to treat and promptly take measures to address them.

Other sustainable development resolutions spotlighted development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan, sustainable tourism development in Central America, agricultural technology, desertification, biological diversity, education, camelids and World Bee Day.

Turning to a related item, the Assembly adopted a resolution on agriculture development, food security and nutrition in a recorded vote of 185 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions. By that text, the Assembly stressed the need to increase sustainable agricultural production globally by improving markets and trading systems as well as increasing responsible public and private investment in agriculture, land management and rural development.

By further terms, it stressed that a universal, rules‑based, open, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system promoted rural development and contributed to world food security and nutrition.  It urged national, regional and international strategies to promote the participation of farmers, fishers and fish workers in their various markets.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution concerning natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Syrian Golan in a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States) with 11 abstentions, which called for Israel to cease exploitation of natural resources in those territories.

Further to the text, the Assembly called on Israel to comply with international law and cease all policies and measures to alter the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It also called on Israel to stop harming the environment, cease destruction of vital infrastructure, remove obstacles to the implementation of critical environmental projects, and cease efforts impeding Palestinian development.

Resolutions were also adopted on transport links, agricultural technology, small islands, global climate, harmony with nature, oil slick on Lebanese shores, human settlements, globalization, science and technology, culture, landlocked developing countries, poverty eradication, women, human resources, operational activities, South‑South cooperation and family farming.

Committee Rapporteur Theresah Chipulu Luswili Chanda introduced its reports.

Also adopted, without a vote, was a plenary resolution on a world against violence and violent extremism.  Introducing that text, Iran’s representative urged Member States to avoid associating violent extremism with any single religion or nationality, adding that the Assembly could provide a platform to address the roots of that phenomenon.

The resolution spotlighted international efforts to combat violent extremism and reaffirmed the importance of the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action on the matter.

In other business, the Assembly took note of a report of its General Committee and several appointments to the Committee on Conferences.  Botswana, France and the Russian Federation were appointed to serve three‑year terms on the Committee beginning on 1 January 2018.  The Assembly also noted that the Asia‑Pacific Group had recommended China’s appointment to fill a vacancy on the Committee for a term of office beginning on the date of appointment and ending on 31 December 2019.

Introduction of Draft Resolution and Reports

MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, introducing a draft resolution titled “Restructuring of the United Nations peace and security pillar” (document A/72/L.33), said the Organization must be able to respond to today’s challenges “in the best way it can”.  However, there were new conflicts today that were harder to identify, as in the case of online recruitment of terrorist groups.  “Different threats require different responses,” he said, calling for adjustments to the Organization’s seventy‑year‑old mechanisms.  “We must evolve,” he stressed, noting that the resolution before the Assembly today would assist in that process, as it called for a second comprehensive report on the United Nations peace and security pillar.  Thanking the facilitators, he urged Member States to adopt the text by consensus.

The representative of Colombia, speaking in explanation of position on that item, said the resolution was critical to help make the United Nations more modern and transparent.  It contained a “visionary proposal” by the Secretary‑General, who had been chosen specifically “for this important task”.  Today’s peace and security challenges required bold measures to save lives, he said, adding that the resolution marked an important step forward in transparency.  It would also provide more feedback on “what is working and what is not working on the ground” in the United Nations efforts to enhance sustainable international peace.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

The representative of the United States said the United Nations would be better able to address the needs of those on the ground with more focused, effective and efficient operations.  Any reform that was implemented must advance political solutions and enable the Organization to tailor its responses to the needs of countries in conflict or transition.  The resolution demonstrated that the Secretary‑General had wide‑reaching endorsement from Member States for his vision to make the United Nations a stronger and more relevant institution that could prevent and respond to conflicts and atrocities.

The representative of Mexico said his country had joined consensus on the resolution, as it supported the Secretary‑General in his vision to make the United Nations a stronger organization.  It was critical to have the full backing of the Assembly so that the proposal could be implemented as soon as possible.  However, it seemed contradictory that the resolution on the reform of peace and security did not include references to sustainable development or the 2015 review process.  He expressed hope that the Secretary‑General’s report would be substantive in helping the Organization move towards greater understanding and the paradigm shift that peace required.

The representative of Argentina, welcoming the Secretary‑General’s initiative to reform the United Nations peace and security pillar, said the Organization should adopt a holistic and comprehensive approach to conflict prevention, building sustainable peace and development.  The text would help decrease the fragmentation in the Organization’s work, she said, adding that the “sweeping” proposal would help the United Nations focus more closely on the root causes of conflict, ensure national ownership, enhance conflict prevention and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Voicing support for efforts to make the Peacebuilding Office a “liaison” between the various relevant organs of the United Nations, she stressed that “we must move forward”, and expressed hope that the upcoming work would reflect an active exchange of ideas between all Member States.

The representative of China voiced support for the United Nations efforts to better implement the responsibilities entrusted in it by its Charter, as well as to enhance multilateralism.  Also welcoming efforts aimed at integrating the Organization’s resources and improving its efficiency, thereby allowing it to better respond to today’s peace and security challenges, he said the restructuring of the United Nations peace and security architecture would also require greater consultation between Member States.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that his delegation had joined in the consensus, said the changes proposed would also impact the Organization’s political dimensions.  Voicing his delegation’s commitment to engage in all discussions going forward, he expressed full respect for the points of view of various Member States, and said the final analysis must help them reach a “mutual understanding”.  While the interlinked relationship between the United Nations three pillars underpinned the Organization’s work, that did not mean that they must be carried out in the same way.  In that regard, he expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s efforts to avoid duplication of labour as well as ensure geographical representation.

The representative of Egypt agreed that the non‑traditional challenges emerging in global peace and security issues required new ideas and a more efficient use of the United Nations toolkit.  Stressing that the Assembly and its organs were the only entities that could adopt any of the restructuring proposals — and that such an adoption must be undertaken with full respect for the mandates of all the United Nations organs without any amendments to those mandates — he warned against including controversial elements which had not been fully agreed by Member States.  In addition, he said, Egypt considered sustainable development to be a right and a standalone objective in itself, which must be achieved without any preconditions.

The representative of Brazil said the United Nations needed to be nimbler if it was to implement all initiatives under the pillars of peace and security, development and human rights.  His country supported reform of the peace and security pillar and welcomed efforts to overcome fragmentation in focusing on restructuring peacebuilding.  However, he said reform would not be complete without reference to the work methods of the Security Council.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Assembly had expressed strong support for the Secretary‑General and reform of the Secretariat’s peace and security pillar.  He looked forward to a detailed report of all aspects of the new pillar.  The Secretariat must act as one while taking into account specificities of all facets on the ground, as through such efforts it could improve on efforts to maintain peace.  The Secretary‑General had the authority and now full political endorsement in proceeding with the first steps of implementing his vision.  With adoption of the resolution, the Assembly had set in motion not only reform but also a good precedent for other reforms.

THERESAH CHIPULU LUSWILI CHANDA (Zambia), Rapporteur of the Second Committee, introduced that body’s reports and the draft resolutions or decisions within, noting oral revisions for some.  She began with Strengthening of the United Nations system; United Nations reform: measures and proposals (document A/72/L.33); Information and communications technologies for development (document A/72/417); Macroeconomic policy questions (document A/72/418); International trade and development (document A/72/418/Add.1); International financial system and development (document A/72/418/Add.2); External debt sustainability and development (document A/72/418/Add.3); Commodities (document A/72/418/Add.4); Financial inclusion for sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.5); Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows in order to foster sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.6); and Follow-up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development (document A/72/419).

Turning then to reports focusing on sustainable development, she introduced Sustainable development (document A/72/420); 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/72/420/Add.1); Follow‑up to and implementation of the SIDS [small islands developing States] Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/72/420/Add.2); Disaster risk reduction (document A/72/420/Add.3); Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind (document A/72/420/Add.4); Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (document A/72/420/Add.5); Sustainable development: Convention on Biological Diversity (document A/72/420/Add.6); Education for sustainable development (document A/72/420/Add.7); Harmony with Nature (document A/72/420/Add.8); Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (document A/72/420/Add.9); and Combating sand and dust storms (document A/72/420/Add.10).

Next, she introduced reports on Implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‑Habitat) (document A/72/421); Globalization and interdependence (document A/72/422); Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence (document A/72/422/Add.1); Science, technology and innovation for development (document A/72/422/Add.2); and Culture and sustainable development (document A/72/422/Add.3).

Next, she introduced reports on Development cooperation with middle‑income countries (document A/72/422/Add.4); Groups of countries in special situations (document A/72/423); Follow‑up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/72/423/Add.1); Follow‑up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (document A/72/423/Add.2); Eradication of poverty and other development issues: report of the Second Committee (document A/72/424); Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008‑2017) (document A/72/424/Add.1); Women in development (document A/72/424/Add.2); and Human resources development (document A/72/424/Add.3).

Finally, she introduced reports on Operational activities for development (document A/72/425); Operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/72/425/Add.1); South‑South cooperation for development (document A/72/425/Add.2); Agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/72/426); Towards global partnerships (document A/72/427); Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/72/428); Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/72/479); and Programme planning (document A/72/484).

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Assembly then turned to draft resolutions in the reports, beginning with a text on information and communications technologies for development (document A/72/417), which it adopted without a vote.

By that text, the Assembly called on all stakeholders to make bridging digital divides a priority, put into effect sound strategies contributing to the development of e‑government and continue to focus on pro‑poor information and communications technology policies and applications.

Next, it took up Macroeconomic policy questions, taking note of the report and adopting a resolution on Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/72/418/Add.1) in a recorded vote of 130 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States) with 48 abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly would call for the elimination of such measures against those States.

It then adopted a resolution on International trade and development (document A/72/418/Add.1) in a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly promoted a universal, rules‑based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as meaningful trade liberalization.

Following that, the Assembly adopted a text on International financial system and development (document A/72/418/Add.2) in a recorded vote of 180 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly resolved to strengthen the coherence and consistency of multilateral financial, investment, trade and development policy and environment institutions and platforms.

Next, it adopted, without a vote, a resolution on External debt sustainability and development (document A/72/418/Add.3), by which it stressed the responsibilities of creditor and debtor nations in avoiding the build‑up of unsustainable debt to diminish the risk of crisis.  By further terms, it urged countries to direct resources freed by debt relief to sustained economic growth and internationally agreed development goals.

The Assembly then adopted a draft on Commodities (document A/72/418/Add.4) in a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that draft, the Assembly would have the international community address factors that created structural barriers to international trade, impeded diversification and limited access to financial services, particularly for developing countries.

By other terms, it called on relevant stakeholders to address the issue of the low industrialization and diversification of the economies of some commodity‑dependent developing countries.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on Financial inclusion for sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.5), by which it encouraged Member States to adopt and pursue national financial inclusion and gender‑responsive strategies to end structural barriers to women’s equal access to economic resources.

It then adopted, without a vote, a resolution on Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows in order to foster sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.6).  By that draft, the Assembly expressed concern that cryptocurrencies were increasingly being used for illicit activities.  It called for greater international cooperation and sustained dialogue to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on assets return.

The representative of Nigeria said efforts by his country and Norway had led to the establishment of the interlink between achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and combating illicit financial flows, which had been endorsed in numerous fora including the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  While his delegation had expected a more robust outcome, the adopted resolution was sufficient, he said, and appealed to Member States to further request a report by the Secretary‑General on how the issue was central to achieving the 2030 Agenda.  The Assembly setting up an intergovernmental body would be key to coordinating relevant mandates, he said, adding that most developing countries supported that idea.  The African Union’s annual theme would in 2018 be “Winning the fight against corruption:  A sustainable path to Africa’s Transformation”.  Nigeria stood ready to contribute toward holding the high‑level conference on illicit financial flows and asset recovery which would be convened by the President of the seventy‑third General Assembly.  Urging Member States to share information to combat illicit financial flows, he underscored that returning stolen assets had a more positive impact than focusing on conditionalities hindering developing countries’ progress.

Following that, the Assembly adopted a draft, without a vote, on Follow‑up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development (document A/72/419).

Turning to sustainable development, the Assembly adopted a resolution on Oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/72/420) in a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Tonga, Vanuatu).  By that text, it noted that the oil slick damage to Lebanon amounted to $856.4 million in 2014, and the Assembly requested the Government of Israel to provide compensation to Lebanon for the damage and to other countries directly affected by the oil slick, such as Syria.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a text on International Year of Camelids, 2024 (document A/72/420), by which it encouraged all Member States, the United Nations system and other actors to take advantage of the International Year to promote awareness among the public of the economic and cultural importance of camelids.

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a resolution on World Bee Day (document A/72/420), by which the Assembly decided to designate 20 May as World Bee Day to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats that they face and their contribution to sustainable development.

Next, the Assembly adopted a draft, without a vote, on strengthening the links between all modes of transport to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (document A/72/420).  By that text, it called for efforts to promote regional and interregional economic cooperation, including by improving the planning of transportation infrastructure and mobility, enhancing connectivity and facilitating trade and investment.

It then adopted, without a vote, a text on international cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan (document A/72/420).  By that text, the Assembly urged the international community to assist Kazakhstan in implementing special programmes and projects to treat and care for the affected population, as well as efforts to ensure economic growth and sustainable development in the Semipalatinsk region.

Following that, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a resolution on sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America (document A/72/420), by which it stressed the need to promote the further development of sustainable tourism and strengthen the development of ecotourism, maintaining the culture and environmental integrity of indigenous and local communities.

Next, it adopted a draft on Agricultural technology for sustainable development (document A/72/420) in a recorded vote of 152 in favour to 1 against (Syria), with 29 abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly urged stakeholders to strengthen efforts to improve the development of sustainable agricultural technologies and their transfer and dissemination to developing countries.

The representative of Slovenia said that after three years of effort, the resolution on World Bee Day had received its final endorsement.  In the last three years, since the beginning of the initiative of the Slovenian Beekeeper’s Association in 2014, his country had been intensively notifying States around the world on a political as well as an expert level.  In the frame of the official procedures, the initiative had been unanimously adopted by the Conference of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations at its fortieth session in Rome in July.  After that endorsement, it was transmitted to the Assembly, and on 17 November the resolution was adopted by the Second Committee.  Global food security was a key social issue and an important priority in the development of agriculture.  A third of all food produced in the world depends on pollination, and bees had an important role to play in the preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity.  They were also good bioindicators of environmental conditions.

The Assembly then adopted a text, in a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 48 against, with 4 abstentions (Liberia, New Zealand, Norway, Turkey), 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/72/420/Add.1).

Next, the Assembly adopted a draft, without a vote, on follow‑up to and implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/72/420/Add.2).

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a text on Disaster risk reduction (document A/72/420/Add.3), by which the Assembly emphasized that preventing and reducing such risk would provide exponential returns and significantly curtail response costs.  It also emphasized the importance of increasing the availability of and access to multi‑hazard early warning mechanisms in ensuring early action.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a draft on Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind (document A/72/420/Add.4).  By that text, it emphasized that mitigation of and adaptation to climate change represented an immediate and urgent global priority.  It also urged Member States to strengthen mechanisms and provide adequate resources towards achieving the full and equal participation of women in decision‑making at all levels on environmental issues.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (document A/72/420/Add.5).

Following that, it adopted a draft, without a vote, on implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (document A/72/420/Add.6), by which the Assembly called on Governments and all stakeholders to take appropriate measures to mainstream consideration of socioeconomic impacts and benefits of conserving and sustainably using biodiversity and its components, as well as ecosystems providing essential services, into relevant programmes and policies at all levels.

The Assembly then adopted a text, without a vote, on Education for sustainable development in the framework of the 2030 Agenda (document A/72/420/Add.7).  By that draft, it called on the international community to provide inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels — early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary and distance education, including technical and vocational training — so that all people had access to lifelong learning opportunities that help them exploit opportunities to participate fully in society and contribute to sustainable development.

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a text on Harmony with Nature (document A/72/420/Add.8), by which the Assembly decided to continue observing International Mother Earth Day annually.  It also called for holistic and integrated approaches to sustainable development in its three dimensions that guided humanity to live in harmony with nature and led to efforts to restore the health and integrity of the planet’s ecosystems.

Next, it adopted a draft on Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (document A/72/420/Add.9) in a recorded vote of 183 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Venezuela).  By that text, the Assembly called for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.  It also called on Governments to expand the use of renewable energy beyond the power sector to industry, heating and cooling, construction and infrastructure, and in particular the transport sector.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a draft on Combating sand and dust storms (document A/72/420/Add.10), by which it recognized that that meteorological phenomenon had inflicted substantial economic, social and environmental damage on the inhabitants of the world’s arid, semi‑arid and dry subhumid areas, underscoring the need to treat them and take measures to address those challenges.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a draft on Implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‑Habitat) (document A/72/421).

It then adopted a text on the Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence (document A/72/422/Add.1) in a recorded vote of 184 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that draft, the Assembly underlined that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Agenda depended on means of implementation, particularly finance, international trade, technology and capacity‑building, calling for sincere and effective follow‑up on global commitments.

The Assembly then took note of the Second Committee’s report on “Promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence”.

Following that, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a draft on Science, technology and innovation for development (document A/72/422/Add.2), by which it called for strengthened support to those areas, particularly in developing countries.  It would also proclaim 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements to enhance global awareness of and education in the basic sciences.

Next, it adopted, in a recorded vote of 185 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions, a text on Culture and sustainable development (document A/72/422/Add.3).  By that draft, the Assembly encouraged all relevant stakeholders to cooperate in supporting developing country efforts to develop, strengthen and consolidate cultural industries, tourism and related microenterprises.

It then adopted, without a vote, a text on Development cooperation with middle‑income countries (document A/72/422/Add.4), by which the Assembly encouraged shareholders in multilateral development banks to develop a graduation process (from a nation’s lesser developed status) that was sequenced, phased and gradual.

The Assembly then took note of the Second Committee’s report on “Groups of countries in special situations”.

Following that, it turned to a draft on Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/72/423/Add.1), adopting it without a vote.  By that text, the Assembly underlined the urgent need to reverse the decline in official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries, urging nations that had not met commitments to increase their ODA and make concrete efforts towards the ODA targets.

Next, it adopted, without a vote, a draft on Follow-up to the Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (document A/72/423/Add.2).  By that text, the Assembly stressed that cooperation on fundamental transit policies, laws and regulations between landlocked developing countries and their neighbours was crucial for the effective and integrated solution of cross‑border trade and transit transport problems.

The Assembly then took note of the Committee’s report on “Eradication of poverty and other development issues”.

It then adopted, without a vote, a draft on Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008‑2017) (document A/72/424/Add.1).  By that text, the Assembly emphasized the importance of structural transformation leading to inclusive and sustainable industrialization for employment creation and poverty reduction.

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a draft on Women in development (document A/72/424/Add.2), by which the Assembly emphasized the need to link policies on economic, social and environmental development to ensure that all people, in particular women and children living in poverty and in vulnerable situations, benefited from inclusive economic growth and development.

The representative of Sudan, explaining his delegation’s position on the “women and development” resolution, said it had joined the consensus.  However, he expressed concern over the wording of some of the resolution’s paragraphs, including false criticisms of particular national legal systems, and disassociated himself from that text.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on Human resources development (document A/72/424/Add.3), taking note of the report on the same topic.  By that text, it called on the international community to place human resources development at the core of economic and social development as educated, skilled, healthy, capable, productive and adaptable workforces were the foundation for achieving sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and development.

The Assembly then turned to a draft on Operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/72/425/Add.1), adopting it without a vote.  By that text, it took note of the Secretary‑General’s report on “Repositioning the United Nations development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda: ensuring a better future for all”.

The Assembly then took note of the Second Committee’s report “Operational activities for development”.

Following that, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on South‑South cooperation for development (document A/72/425/Add.2), by which it stressed that such assistance was not a substitute for, but rather a complement to, North‑South cooperation.  It also called on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other relevant organizations to assist developing countries in implementing projects of South‑South cooperation.

Next, the Assembly adopted, in a recorded vote of 185 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions, a draft on Agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/72/426).  By that text, it stressed the need to increase sustainable agricultural production globally by improving markets and trading systems as well as increasing responsible public and private investment in sustainable agriculture, land management and rural development.

By further terms, the Assembly stressed that a universal, rules‑based, open, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system promoted agriculture and rural development in developing countries and contributed to world food security and nutrition.  It urged national, regional and international strategies to promote the participation of farmers, fishers and fish workers in community, national, regional and international markets.

It then adopted, without a vote, a draft on the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (document A/72/426), by which the Assembly proclaimed 2019‑2028 the Decade of Family Farming, and called on FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to lead implementation of the initiative.

The Assembly then adopted a draft decision to postpone discussion of the agenda item on “Towards global partnerships” until the General Assembly’s seventy‑third session.

Following that, it adopted, in a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 11 abstentions, a text on Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/72/428).  By that draft, the Assembly called on Israel to cease exploitation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Syrian Golan.

Further to the text, the Assembly called on Israel to comply with its obligations under international law and cease all policies and measures aimed at the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It also called on Israel to halt all actions harming the environment, cease destruction of vital infrastructure, remove obstacles to the implementation of critical environmental projects, cease efforts impeding Palestinian development and export of discovered oil and natural gas reserves.

The Assembly then adopted a draft decision to approve the Second Committee’s programme of work for its seventy‑third session.

Finally, it took note of a report on programme planning.

The Assembly then took up a draft resolution titled “A world against violence and violent extremism” (document A/72/L.32).

The representative of Iran, introducing that text, said it was a follow‑up to Assembly resolutions 68/127 and 70/109, both of which had been adopted by consensus.  That unity demonstrated the pressing need to act to combat violent extremism, especially through the principles of tolerance and moderation.  Calling for collective international action in that regard — especially in the wake of the atrocities committed over the last few years by extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, including by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) — he stressed that “dialogue, moderation and tolerance are the most effective antidote to violent extremism”.  Urging Member States to avoid associating violent extremism with any particular religion or nationality, he said doing so “played right into the terrorists’ hands” and further spread extremist ideology.  Noting that the Assembly could provide a strong platform to help address the roots of that phenomenon, he said the text also reaffirmed measures taken at the international level such as the Assembly’s high‑level 2016 meeting on the topic, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) 2016 conference on youth and the Internet.  It also spotlighted the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism and requested him to report on the implementation of the present resolution at the Assembly’s seventy‑fourth session.

The Assembly then adopted that draft resolution without a vote.

Speaking following the adoption, the representative of Canada said her delegation strongly condemned all violent extremism, including violence committed on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The rights of all people must be respected, she stressed, noting that the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action recognized the important link between social exclusion and violent extremism.  All States — especially the resolution’s main sponsor — should comply with their international obligations to protect human rights.

The representative of Israel said her delegation had joined in the consensus, but voiced concern not with “the message but the messenger”.  Iran, the text’s main sponsor, was in fact the “nerve‑centre” of violent extremism and terrorist incitement around the globe, as well as its main sponsor.  Iran’s proxies butchered innocent people and violated human rights, she said, adding that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Iran were hanged from cranes, journalists were arrested, girls as young as 12 were married off and prisoners were tortured.  In Syria, Iran’s continued support for the Assad regime had allowed it to use chemical weapons against its own people, and next door in Lebanon it had helped Hizbullah increase its weapons arsenal.  With the adoption of the present text, it was critical for the international community to focus on Iran’s own actions, she stressed, noting that that country had already violated the very resolution it was sponsoring.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said his country had joined consensus on the resolution based on its belief in a comprehensive effort to combat violence and extremism.  It supported all efforts aimed at fighting violent extremism, but must address contradictions concerning security.  It was clear that Iran, the sponsor of the resolution, was also the main sponsor of violence and violent extremism across the world.  Iran had worked to destroy Yemen and was continuing to do so through violations of international law.  Several of its militias had wreaked havoc in Syria and Lebanon, and it was supporting extremist groups with weapons and other prohibited items.  He condemned Iranian support for those groups, stressing the need to prevent and counter all forms of violent extremism.

The representative of the United States noted that the Assembly had on 19 December adopted a resolution condemning Iran for continuing to violate international law and voicing concern over the targeting of minority religious communities.  Yet, 24 hours later, Iran was sponsoring a resolution against violence and extremism.  It had often acted in clear violation of its international obligations, which ran counter to the spirit of the resolution.  Her country had joined consensus on the resolution, as it believed in a comprehensive effort to counter extremism.  While Iran urged countries to unite against violence, its Government actively fomented violence across the Middle East.  Its support for Hizbullah had expanded the group’s arsenal, directly challenging Lebanese sovereignty and threatening Israel.  Iran abused its own people, supported political opponents of other Member States and imprisoned journalists and tourists on trumped up charges.

The representative of the Russian Federation said her country had joined consensus, as it believed in the resolution’s potential.  It viewed extremism as separate from terrorism, although it was a breeding ground for it.  Efforts to counter violent extremism must be based on international law and the United Nations Charter.  That was important when vague terms were being used to put forth dubious concepts.  She noted that extremist propaganda could, without violence, lead to undermining of the rule of law, destabilization of society and mass violations of human rights.

The representative of the European Union delegation rejected any form of discrimination, including on the grounds of sex, race, colour, language, genetic features, religion, membership in a minority group or sexual orientation or any other.  All nations must respect international human rights, promote good governance and uphold the rule of law.  She therefore urged all States — including the resolution’s main sponsor — to respect the rights of all their people, including ethnic, sexual and religious minorities.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran responded to the statement delivered by the delegate of the “Israeli regime”, who had levied baseless allegations and lies against his country.  Israel’s anger over the resolution adopted today was understandable, as it was an occupying entity that had created an apartheid system in the territories it controlled.  The representative of Israel had clearly deemed the resolution to be “against itself”, he said, noting that it pursued one of the most extreme policies in the modern world and denied the people living under its occupation their most basic rights.  In contrast, Iran had done everything in its power to combat violent extremism.

Responding to the representative of the United States, he said that country had for almost a year pursued a new policy which included levying baseless allegations and lies against Iran.  It was also working to advance the interests of the Israeli regime in the Middle East and was taking advantage of some regional countries by creating a “local bogeyman”.  It was not a coincidence that the United States had gone into high gear in its false allegations against Iran following the massive condemnation it received on its decision to recognize Al‑Quds [Jerusalem] as Israel’s capital.  The United States Government’s regime change project inflicted severe suffering across the Middle East, he said, adding that that country supported, armed and trained known terrorist groups in Syria.  The United States’ own past aggressions and interventions in the region had created fertile ground for recruitment by those advocating the violent takfirist ideology.

Turning to the representative of Saudi Arabia, he said that that country was a main sponsor of violent extremism worldwide, having lavishly financed the export of its fanatical ideology to poorer nations over the last three decades.  Saudi Arabia remained a critical support base for Al‑Qaida, the Taliban and other terrorist groups, and it supported any group that would fight the Government in Syria.  Noting that ISIL/Daesh was a product of Saudi support and financing, he said that country’s ideology propagated hatred and sought to spread it abroad.

General Assembly Adopts 59 Third Committee Draft Resolutions, Defers Action on 4 Closely Watched Texts, amid Discord over Agreed Language

Acting on the recommendations of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), the General Assembly adopted 59 resolutions and six decisions today on a range of issues, from women’s rights, terrorism and refugees, to self‑determination and the human rights situations in individual countries. 

The Assembly deferred action, however, on some of the more closely‑watched questions, including a draft resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar, which would have had it request the Secretary‑General to appoint a special envoy on Myanmar and to offer assistance to that Government.  

Most of the resolutions adopted today were adopted by consensus and without discussion, whereas they in Committee were subjects of intensive debate, as was the case with a resolution on policies and programmes involving youth.  By that text, the Assembly urged States to address gender stereotypes that perpetuated discrimination and violence against girls and young women, notably by encouraging men and boys to take responsibility for their behaviour. 

The Assembly’s votes on other texts revealed enduring divisions between Member States, such as on four country‑specific resolutions taking up the rights situations in Syria, Iran, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Assembly deferred action on a fifth such text on human rights in Myanmar to allow time for the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to review its programme budget implications. 

The Assembly adopted without a vote the resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, yet several countries took care to disassociate themselves with that outcome.  Pyongyang’s representative called the text a product of the political and military confrontation, plot and conspiracy pursued by the United States and other hostile forces against his country.  Calling for sincere dialogue and cooperation to resolve outstanding issues, he said his country would not call for a vote on the text, “which is not worth consideration”.  Instead, he called on delegates to oppose the text’s adoption by disassociating from consensus.

As in the Committee, Sudan’s representative took issue with resolutions mentioning the International Criminal Court, proposing oral amendments to remove those references.  The General Assembly, by subsequent recorded votes, overwhelmingly rejected all three attempts at deletion, retaining the references to the International Criminal Court in resolutions on torture and on assistance to internally displaced people. 

Also speaking today were the representatives of Denmark, Norway, Mexico, Estonia, Iran, China, Syria, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Cuba, Venezuela and Indonesia.

Speaking in exercise of the right to reply were representatives of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria.

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

Action on Third Committee Draft Resolutions

ANDRÉS MOLINA LINARES (Guatemala), Rapporteur-designate of the Third Committee, introduced the following reports of that body:  Social development (document A/72/431); Advancement of women (document A/71/432); Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions (document A/72/433); Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/72/434); Promotion and protection of the rights of children (document A/72/435); Rights of indigenous peoples (document A/72/436); Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/72/437); and Rights of peoples to self‑determination (document A/72/438).

He went on to present the Committee’s reports on Promotion and protection of human rights (document A/72/439); Implementation of human rights instruments (document A/72/439/Add.1); Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedom (document A/72/439/Add.2*); Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (document A/72/439/Add.3); Comprehensive implementation of and follow‑up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/72/439/Add.4); Crime prevention and criminal justice (document A/72/440); International drug control (document A/72/441); Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/72/480); and Programme planning (document A/72/485).

The Assembly began by taking up the report on Social development (document A/72/431), which contained seven draft resolutions and one draft decision.

Acting without a vote, it first adopted draft resolution I, “Persons with albinism”, expressing concern that those persons were disproportionately affected by poverty, and that women and girls, in particular, were targets of witchcraft‑related attacks. 

It then adopted draft resolution II titled, “Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty‑fourth special session of the General Assembly” by recorded vote of 184 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions. By its terms, it urged States to strengthen social policies, focusing on the specific needs of disadvantaged social groups, and invited them to develop comprehensive and integrated strategies to address the structural causes of poverty and inequality.

The Assembly adopted the remainder of its texts without a vote, namely: draft resolution III, “Promoting social integration through social inclusion”, stressing that States should prioritize the creation of a society for all, based on respect for all human rights and principles of equality, and calling on them to promote more equitable participation in and access to economic growth gains;

Draft resolution IV titled, “Cooperatives in social development”, inviting Governments, relevant international organizations and others to observe the International Day of Cooperatives annually, on the first Saturday of July, as proclaimed by Assembly resolution 47/90;

Draft resolution V titled, “Follow‑up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing”, calling on States to address the well‑being of and health care for older persons, as well as cases of neglect, abuse and violence, notably by implementing more effective prevention strategies and stronger laws;

Draft resolution VI titled, “Follow‑up to the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond”, inviting States to invest in family‑oriented policies and programmes, and requesting the Secretary‑General to submit a report at its seventy‑fourth session, through the Commission for Social Development and the Economic and Social Council.

And draft resolution VII titled, “Policies and programmes involving youth”, stressing the need to strengthen the capacity of national statistical offices to collect and analyse age‑disaggregated data in reporting on the youth dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  It urged States to address gender stereotypes that perpetuated discrimination and violence against girls and young women, notably by encouraging men and boys to take responsibility for their behavior.

By its draft decision, adopted without a vote, the Assembly took note of the report titled “World Social Situation 2017: Promoting inclusion through social protection”.

Next, the Assembly took up the report on the Advancement of women (document A/72/432), containing three draft resolutions and one draft decision.

It adopted without a vote draft resolution I titled, “Follow‑up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty‑third special session of the General Assembly”, requesting the Secretary‑General to accelerate his efforts to achieve the 50/50 gender balance at all levels throughout the United Nations, and calling on the Organization to significantly increase its efforts towards that goal.

It adopted without a vote draft resolution II titled, “Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas”, urging States to mainstream a gender perspective into decision‑making and governance of natural resources; leverage women’s influence in managing natural resources; and enhance the capacities of Governments, civil society and development partners to better address gender issues in such management. 

Adopting without a vote draft resolution III on “Violence against women migrant workers”, the Assembly called on all Governments to incorporate a human rights, gender‑sensitive and people‑centred perspective into legislation, policies and programmes on international migration and on labour and employment.  It urged States to take measures to end the arbitrary arrest and detention of women migrant workers, and ensure that legislative provisions and judicial processes were in place for them to access justice.

It then adopted without a vote a draft decision, taking note of the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and the Secretary‑General’s report on the status of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The Assembly then turned to the “Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions” (document A/72/433), which contained three resolutions.

Acting without a vote, it adopted draft resolution I titled, “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, inviting the High Commissioner to coordinate an effort to measure the impacts of hosting, protecting and assisting refugees, with a view to assessing gaps in international cooperation and promoting burden‑ and responsibility‑sharing that was more equitable, predictable and sustainable, and to begin reporting on the results to Member States in 2018. 

By other terms, it strongly condemned attacks on refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons, strongly reaffirming the Office’s purely humanitarian and non‑political character in providing protection to refugees and in seeking durable solutions, which included voluntary repatriation, the preferred solution.

It then adopted draft resolution II on “Enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, deciding to increase the number of members of the Executive Committee from 101 States to 102 States, and request the Economic and Social Council to elect the additional members at a coordination and management meeting in 2018.

Adopting without a vote draft resolution III on “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa”, the Assembly requested the Secretary‑General to submit a report on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa to the seventy‑third session, taking into account efforts made by countries of asylum and those aimed at bridging funding gaps.

The Assembly next turned to the report titled, “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/72/434) containing an eponymous draft resolution.

The Assembly then took action on the text as a whole, adopting it by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 2 against (Belarus, Israel), with 58 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly took note of the report of the Human Rights Council, including the addendum thereto, and its recommendations.

Turning to the report on “Promotion and protection of the rights of children” (document A/72/435), which contained two draft resolutions, the Assembly first took up draft resolution I, titled “The Girl Child”.

Adopting the text without a vote, the Assembly called on States to create an environment where the well‑being of the girl child was ensured.  It urged States to improve the situation of girl children living in poverty, acknowledge the different needs of girls and boys, and make adapted investments that were responsive to their changing needs.

It called on States, with the support of international organizations, civil society and non‑governmental organizations, to develop policies that prioritized formal, informal and non‑formal education — including scientifically accurate and age‑appropriate comprehensive education — relevant to cultural contexts.  Among other things, such education would provide adolescent girls and boys and young women and men in and out of school with information on sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention to enable them to build self‑esteem and make informed decisions.

Next, the Assembly turned to the report on “Rights of indigenous peoples” (document A/72/436) which contained an eponymous draft resolution, which the Assembly adopted without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly urged Governments and the United Nations to consult indigenous peoples, and implement measures to achieve the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  It also stressed the need for them to mainstream indigenous rights into development policies and programmes at national, regional and international levels.

As the Assembly took up the report on “Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (document A/72/437), which contained two draft resolutions and one draft decision, a recorded vote was requested on draft resolution I titled, “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo‑Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

The Assembly then adopted the text as a whole by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 2 against (Ukraine, United States), with 49 abstentions, expressing deep concern about the glorification of the Nazi movement, neo‑Nazism and former members of the Waffen SS organization.  It encouraged States, civil society and others to use all opportunities to counter the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred.

The Assembly next turned to draft resolution II titled, “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action”.

The Assembly then adopted the text by a recorded vote of 133 votes in favour to 10 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United Kingdom and United States), with 43 abstentions, outlining various actions related to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, among other international instruments, offices, mandate holders and activities.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote a draft decision, taking note of the reports of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on its ninetieth, ninety‑first and ninety‑second sessions; and of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

It next turned to the report titled “Right of peoples to self‑determination” (document A/72/438), which contained three draft resolutions.

With a vote requested for a draft resolution I titled, “Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self‑determination”, the Assembly adopted that text by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 51 against, with 6 abstentions (Andorra, Colombia, Mexico, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Tonga).

By its terms, the Assembly condemned recent mercenary activities in developing countries and stressed the need for the related Working Group to look into sources and root causes, as well as the political motivations of mercenaries.  It requested States to exercise utmost vigilance against any recruitment, training, hiring or financing of mercenaries by private companies offering international military and security services.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote draft resolution II titled, “Universal realization of the right of peoples to self‑determination”, declaring its opposition to foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation which had suppressed that right.  It also deplored the plight of millions of refugees and displaced persons uprooted due to such acts, reaffirming their right to voluntary return.

Turning to a text titled, “The right of the Palestinian people to self‑determination,” the Assembly adopted the text by a vote of 176 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Togo, Tonga).  By its terms, it reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self‑determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine.  It urged all States and specialized United Nations agencies to continue to support Palestinians in the early realization of their right to self‑determination.

Turning to the report titled “Promotion and protection of human rights” (document A/72/439), the Assembly adopted without a vote a resolution titled, “International Day of Sign Languages”, designating 23 September as the International Day to be observed each year beginning in 2018.  It also adopted a draft decision, taking note of several related documents.

It then turned to the report on “Implementation of human rights instruments” (document A/72/439/Add.1), containing two draft resolutions.

Turning to draft resolution I on “Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto: situation of women and girls with disabilities”, the Assembly adopted it with a unanimous recorded vote of 187 in favour.  By its terms, the Assembly urged States to repeal any law or policy that restricted women with disabilities from their full and equal participation in political and public life.  States should ensure the equal access of those women to decent work in the public and private sectors, that labour markets were open and accessible to persons with disabilities, and take measures to both increase the employment of those women and to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability.

Next, the Assembly turned to draft resolution II titled, “Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, and two draft amendments.

The representative of Sudan reiterated his country’s strong commitment to fighting torture.  However, the use of language in preambular paragraph 7 and operative paragraph 4, referring to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, had forced him to request votes on those paragraphs.  Emphasizing that the Court had been a major impediment to peace in Sudan, he said the Court was, at best, a threat to the peace and stability of his country and others around the world. 

“The Court is not an organ of the United Nations, despite the fervent attempt by some parties to paint it otherwise,” he stressed.  Recalling that, last week, the Assembly of the States Parties to the Rome Statute had decided to activate the “Kampala amendments” on the crime of aggression, he expressed deep concern that the principle of “opt‑in” — which was not applicable in other jurisdictional cases — was indeed allowed in cases of the crime of aggression.  The inclusion of language referencing the Court in the present text would only create discord and disunion between nations, he said, adding that it aimed to use the resolution to exert unacceptable pressure and force Member States to recognize the Court’s jurisdiction.

The Assembly then voted to retain preambular paragraph 7 by a recorded vote of 110 in favour to 17 against, with 31 abstentions.

The representative of Denmark, speaking before the vote on operative paragraph 4, expressed regret that the vote had been called, and urged all Member States to vote in favour of retaining the paragraph.

The Assembly then voted to retain operative paragraph 4 by a recorded vote of 109 in favour to 19 against, with 31 abstentions.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted draft resolution II, condemning torture and any action or attempt by States or public officials to legalize or authorize that practice under any circumstance.  It called on States to adopt a victim‑oriented approach in combating such behavior.

Next, the Assembly took up the report titled, “Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms” (document A/72/439/Add.2*), containing 26 draft resolutions.

The Assembly first turned its attention to draft resolution I titled “Strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization”.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution I, as a whole, by a vote of 175 in favour to 0 against, with 13 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly strongly condemned any manipulation of election processes, coercion and tampering with vote counts, particularly by States.  It called on all Member States to respect the rule of law, the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons and the will of voters.

Next, the Assembly turned to draft resolution II titled, “International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism”, adopting it without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly proclaimed 21 August as the International Day, inviting all Member States, United Nations bodies and others to observe it within existing resources.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution III titled, “United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South‑West Asia and the Arab Region”, by a recorded vote of 188 in favour to 0 against, with 1 abstention (Syria), noting with appreciation the Centre’s capacity‑building, technical assistance and training programmes.

By another recorded vote — 140 in favour to 10 against (Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States), with 38 abstentions — the Assembly adopted draft resolution IV, “The right to development”.

By its terms, the Assembly acknowledged the need to strive for greater international acceptance and realization of the right to development, while urging all States — at the national level — to undertake the necessary policy formulation and to institute measures required to implement that right as an integral part of all human rights. 

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution V titled, “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures”, by recorded vote of 134 in favour to 53 against, with 0 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly strongly urged States to refrain from applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations.  It called on States that had initiated such measures to revoke them. 

Next, the Assembly adopted without a vote draft resolution VI, “Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights”, urging all actors on the international scene to build a global order based on inclusion, justice, equality and equity, human dignity, mutual understanding and respect for cultural diversity and universal human rights.

The Assembly then adopted — by a recorded vote of 136 in favour to 53 against, with 0 abstentions — draft resolution VII, titled, “Human rights and cultural diversity”.  In doing so, it urged States to ensure that their political and legal systems reflect the multicultural diversity within their societies, and relevant international organizations to study how respect for such diversity fostered global cooperation.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution VIII titled, “Strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non‑selectivity, impartiality and objectivity”, inviting States to consider adopting measures deemed appropriate to achieving progress on the matter.

By a recorded vote of 129 in favour to 54 against, with 5 abstentions (Armenia, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico), the Assembly then adopted draft resolution IX titled, “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order”.

By its terms, the Assembly affirmed that such a world order fostered the full realization of all human rights for all, while also calling on States to fulfil their commitment expressed during the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

Draft resolution X, titled, “The right to food”, was adopted by a vote of 187 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 0 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly considered it intolerable that 45 per cent of children who died every year before age 5 died from undernutrition and hunger‑related illness, and that an estimated 815 million people suffered from chronic hunger owing to the lack of food.  It urged States to give priority in their development strategies to the realization of that right.

Turning to draft resolution XI, “Promotion of equitable distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies”, the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 52 against, with 0 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly recommended, when considering the allocation of seats on each treaty body, the introduction of flexible procedures that encompassed three criteria: that each regional group was allocated seats in equivalent proportion to the number of States parties to the instrument in that group; periodic revisions of seat allocation to reflect relative changes in treaty ratification; and automatic periodic revisions to avoid amending the instrument when quotas were revised.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote draft resolution XII titled, “The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity”, condemning all violence against journalists and media workers, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and arbitrary detention.  Such attacks also included intimidation threats and harassment, including through attacks on, or the forced closure of, their offices. 

Adopting without a vote draft resolution XIII on “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief”, the Assembly condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constituted incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.  It called on States to create an appropriate mechanism within Governments to identify and address potential areas of tension between religious communities

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution XIV, titled, “Freedom of religion or belief”, stressing that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, and urging States to ensure that their constitutional and legislative systems provided effective guarantees of such to all without distinction.

Next, the Assembly turned to draft resolution XV titled, “The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation”.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution as a whole by a recorded vote of 183 in favour to 1 against (Kyrgyzstan), with 2 abstentions (South Africa, Turkey), reaffirming that the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, as components of the right to an adequate living standard, were essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life and all human rights.  States should identify patterns of failure to respect, protect or fulfil the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for all persons without discrimination.

The Assembly went on to adopt without a vote draft resolution XVI on “Protection of migrants”, calling on States to respect the human rights and inherent dignity of migrants; draft resolution XVII, “Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”, urging States in such efforts to comply with their international legal obligations regarding the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; and draft resolution XVIII, “National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights”, reaffirming the importance of independent and pluralistic national human rights institutions.

The Assembly then turned to draft resolution XIX titled, “Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons”.

The representative of Sudan expressed concern about any reference to the International Criminal Court, and use of the resolution to refer to that Court.  That jeopardized efforts to safeguard internally displaced persons in Sudan.  Since 2003, the International Criminal Court had impeded peace in Sudan by creating an imaginary conflict and concocting discord between peace and justice.  The Court was not an organ of the United Nations, despite fervent attempts to paint it as such.  Sudan distanced itself from the Court and requested a recorded vote to delete preambular paragraph 26.

The representative of Norway said he understood that Sudan’s representative had called for a vote on deleting preambular paragraph 26.

The representative of Mexico asked whether the draft amendment had withdrawn or whether the Assembly would be voting on that amendment, as well as if the Assembly would also be voting on the oral amendment. 

A Secretariat official clarified that Sudan’s proposed written amendment had been withdrawn, and an oral amendment to delete preambular paragraph 26 had been submitted.  There had been no official call for a vote on that amendment.

The representative of Estonia asked for a recorded vote on the proposal by Sudan’s delegate.

The representative of Sudan called for a recorded vote on deletion of the paragraph. 

The Assembly rejected the oral amendment to delete preambular paragraph 26 by a recorded vote of 22 in favour to 111 against, with 32 abstentions.

The representative of Sudan said he had done his best to develop accommodating language and approached the sponsors, working cooperatively and with all good intentions.  Having exhausted other options, Sudan reverted to the position of its Government, he said. 

Approving draft resolution XIX as a whole without a vote, the Assembly recognized that internal displacement was not only a humanitarian but a development challenge and called on States to address possible obstacles in that regard.

Next, the Assembly took action on draft resolution XX titled, “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”.  Adopting it without a vote, the Assembly expressed deep concern over enforced or involuntary disappearances, including arrest, detention and abduction, and reports of harassment, ill‑treatment and intimidation of witnesses or relatives of persons who have disappeared.

The Assembly then postponed action on draft resolution XXI titled, “Effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights” and draft resolution XXII titled, “Twentieth anniversary and promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”, to allow time for the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to review programme budget implications. 

Taking up draft XXIII, “Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities”, the Assembly adopted the text without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly called on States to ensure the protection of children belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities who were at risk of, or had experienced violence, and to give special attention to the specific needs of older persons and persons with disabilities belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. 

By a recorded 129 in favour to 53 against, with 3 abstentions (Greece, Mexico, Tuvalu), the Assembly then adopted draft resolution XXIV titled, “Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights”.

By its terms, the Assembly called on States, the United Nations and civil society to promote inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable economic growth for managing globalization.  It underlined the need to establish an equitable, transparent and democratic international system to strengthen and broaden the participation of developing countries in global economic decision‑making and norm‑setting.

The Assembly then went on to adopt draft resolution XXV titled, “The role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights”, encouraging States to endow such national human rights institutions with an adequate constitutional and legislative framework, financial and all appropriate means; and draft resolution XXVI titled, “Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa”, requesting the Secretary‑General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide additional funds and human resources to the Centre.

Next, the Assembly took up the report on the “Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives” (document A/72/439/Add.3), containing five draft resolutions.

Action on draft resolution V titled, “Situation of human rights in Myanmar” was postponed to allow time for the Fifth Committee to review its programme budget implications.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining his delegation’s position, rejected the draft resolution titled, “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, which was a product of the political and military confrontation, plot and conspiracy by the United States and other hostile forces.  Decrying the “extreme manifestation of politicization, selectivity and double standards”, he said the United States sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had reached a vicious and barbarous level, while it consistently attempted to violate the nation’s sovereignty, and the rights and dignity of its people.  Calling for sincere dialogue and cooperation to resolve outstanding issues, he said his country would not call for a vote on the item, “which is not worth consideration”.  However, he called on Member States to oppose the text’s adoption by disassociating from the consensus.

The representative of Iran said the greatest atrocities in recent history had been committed by allies of Canada.  The cause of human rights was being advanced by nations with hegemonic attitudes.  The Assembly’s credibility was being eroded; the greatest threat to human rights came from the hypocrisy of Governments criticizing their political foes.  Canada should have realized that such a futile exercise was a disservice to human rights.  Observing Canada’s voting record was helpful to understanding its stance on human rights, he said, noting that Ottawa supported Israel, a level of hypocrisy and double standards that was “mind‑boggling”.  Iran had never practiced slavery nor advocated racial supremacy.  Iran viewed the protection of human rights for all its citizens as essential, and had proven that human rights were part of its national security policy.  The situation of human rights in Iran did not warrant a special resolution.

The representative of China said constructive dialogue should be carried out on the basis of equality, rejecting the practice of exerting pressure on other countries.  China opposed country‑specific resolutions on human rights and would vote against them.

The representative of Syria said the resolution had been presented by those who could not be trusted, who spread chaos in the world and invaded sovereign countries.  Those who spread lies and lacked any respect for human rights should not be allowed to abuse the notion of promoting and protecting human rights, as that would undermine machineries set up to protect those rights.  Syria would vote against all the country‑specific draft resolutions, he said, adding that their promoters were allied in terrorism.  Qatar’s terrorism had reached Syria, and in Yemen, a humanitarian crisis had been met with silence.  For Saudi Arabia to present the resolution was an irony; the country should be the last to speak of human rights given its own record of backwardness.  Saudi Arabia was spreading Wahhabi notions “by the sword,” he said, adding that it had established the practice of chopping off hands and feet “like ISIS”.  Turkey had joined Saudi Arabia and Qatar in sponsoring terrorism by allowing foreign fighters into Syria.  He called on all Member States to vote against the text on human rights in Syria.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that his delegation regularly voted against country‑specific resolutions which frequently sought to pursue political agendas or “settle scores”, added that such texts also eroded the Organization’s credibility and had never led to an actual improvement of a human rights situation on the ground.  On the draft related to human rights in eastern Ukraine, he said any Member State which supported that text should understand they were enabling and sharing in the responsibility for human rights abuses committed there.  The resolution was hypocritical, he said, citing “obvious” attempts to maintain trade and energy links.  Citing Ukraine’s adoption of a scandalous law prohibiting students in the east of the country from receiving education in their own language, he said support for the draft would send the wrong signal to Kiev and he urged States to vote against it.

The representative of Ukraine, thanking those delegations that planned to vote in favour of the draft concerning Crimea, recalled that 42 countries had helped to initiate that resolution in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural).  The situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol continued to worsen, and there was no sign that the Russian Federation would comply with Assembly resolution 71/205.  Recent United Nations reports, released in compliance with that resolution, revealed a significant deterioration of the human rights situation under the Russian Federation’s occupation, he said, adding that the latter’s violations disproportionately affected Crimean Tatars.  The international community must ensure the full expression of human rights, he said, noting that residents of Crimea were Ukrainian citizens despite the occupation.  Calling on all States to unite around common values to protect Crimea residents against “the tyranny of their invaders”, he urged them to vote in favour of the text.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, draft resolution I titled, “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, condemning long‑standing and gross rights violations in that country. 

By a recorded vote of 81 in favour to 30 against, with 70 abstentions, the Assembly adopted draft resolution II, “Situation of human rights in Iran”.  By its terms, the Assembly expressed serious concern over use of the death penalty and urged Iran to eliminate all discrimination and rights violations against women and girls. 

Next, the Assembly adopted, by a recorded vote of 70 in favour to 26 against, with 76 abstentions, draft resolution III titled, “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)”.  In so doing, the Assembly urged the Russian Federation to uphold all its international legal obligations as an occupying Power and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare the second thematic report by the end of the current session.

By a recorded vote of by a recorded vote of 109 in favour to 17 against, with 58 abstentions, the Assembly adopted draft resolution IV titled, “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic”, urging States, especially members of the International Syria Support Group, to create conditions for negotiations on a political solution to the conflict, and demanding that Syrian authorities meet their responsibilities to protect citizens. 

The representative of Cuba, in explanation of vote, disassociated from consensus on the resolution on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Only genuine international cooperation was suitable for the effective promotion and protection of all human rights.  The universal periodic review was the appropriate forum for such discussion, he said, stressing that Cuba could not join consensus on a draft seeking to uphold punishments of the Security Council in situations which did not threaten peace.

The representative of Iran said in explanation of position that he disassociated from consensus on the resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Regarding draft resolution IV, he said those outside the United Nations questioned how the Organization could both condemn terrorism and those effective in fighting such violence.

The representative of Venezuela, disassociating himself from the resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, rejected the adoption of country‑specific human rights‑related resolutions, which were selective in nature and violated the Charter of the United Nations.  Associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, he said the Human Rights Council and the universal periodic review were the forums for promoting cooperation on human rights.  Passing country‑specific resolutions in the Assembly only weakened those mechanisms.

The representative of Sudan said his country had abstained in the vote on the draft related to the human rights situation in Syria for the same reasons as it had previously stated.  Moreover, the reference to the International Criminal Court in this year’s version of that text was a “step backward” and he disassociated himself from that language.  That the resolution had not been adopted by consensus demonstrated that his country’s position had not been taken into account during its drafting.

The representative of Indonesia, expressing concern about the deteriorating situation in Syria, voiced support for the ceasefire agreement and called for unhindered humanitarian access to all those in need in the country.  All parties including the Syrian Government must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including refraining from indiscriminate attacks.  Also citing with concern the findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ report on chemical weapons use, he called on all parties to refrain from using such weapons.  Nevertheless, his country respected Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Calling for the creation of conditions conducive to an inclusive, Syrian‑led political process to the conflict, he said that, for those reasons, his delegation had abstained in the vote on that text.

The representative of Syria stressed the principled stance of the Non‑Aligned Movement which was against using practices which went against the Charter of the United Nations.  “North Korea” had cooperated with the United Nations, and had also signed a number of conventions, including optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and conventions on women’s rights.  Syria disassociated from consensus on the resolution and rejected the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran, which jeopardized the reputation of the Iranian government.  The resolution was a new violation of the mandates of the agencies dealing with the issues in question, he said.  The question of human rights must be exclusive to the Human Rights Council.  Syria also rejected the “political” resolution on Crimea, rejecting attacks on specific countries for specific motives.  The General Assembly was wasting its time discussing propaganda, and the resolution did not reflect reality; the resolution was an attempt at interfering in the affairs of the Russian Federation.

Right of Reply

The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply to comments by Syria’s delegate, said his country was hosting over two million refugees.  Comments about the position of Palestine were beside the issue.  Saudi Arabia had never sold its territory, as Syria had done with the occupied Golan. 

The representative of Turkey rejected allegations made by Syria’s delegate and attempts to distract from that regime’s violations against its own people.

The representative of Syria, outlining a series of historical events that included millions of deaths perpetrated by Saudi Arabia across the Middle East, said today’s situation in Yemen reflected that history.  Saudi Arabia’s actions included cooperating with Israel to conduct an illegitimate war, creating the Al‑Qaida terrorist group and its deployment to Afghanistan, as well as efforts to put down a civil demonstration in Bahrain.  Saudi Arabia sponsored terrorist attacks across the Middle East and pursued a “scorched earth” policy in Yemen, while the Wahhabi group it supported spread an ideology of hatred throughout the Arab world.

Under the agenda item of “Comprehensive implementation of and follow‑up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/72/439/Add.4), the Assembly took note of the eponymous report of the Third Committee.  

The Assembly then turned to the report on “Crime prevention and criminal justice” (document A/72/440), containing five draft resolutions and one draft decision.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted draft resolution I titled, “Follow‑up to the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice”, deciding that the main theme of the Fourteenth Congress would be “Advancing crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law: towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda”; 

Draft resolution II, “Promoting the practical application of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules)”, by which it encouraged States to improve prison conditions and promote application of the Rules as the universally acknowledged updated minimum standards;

Draft resolution III titled, “Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter‑terrorism”, urging States to consider becoming parties to such instruments, and requesting the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to enhance its assistance related to legal and judicial cooperation in such efforts, including regarding foreign terrorist fighters;

Draft resolution IV titled, “Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons”, calling on States, international organizations, civil society and the private sector to increase prevention efforts in countries of origin, transit and destination by focusing on demand, and the goods and services produced as a result of trafficking in persons; and

Draft resolution V titled, “Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity”, inviting its President to hold a high‑level debate marking the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The Assembly also adopted a draft decision taking note of the report of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on its eighth session, held in Vienna from 17 to 21 October 2016.

Next, the Assembly turned to its report on “International drug control” (document A/72/441), containing two draft resolutions.

It adopted without a vote draft resolution I titled, “Promoting the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development and related commitments on alternative development and regional, interregional and international cooperation on development‑oriented, balanced drug control policy addressing socioeconomic issues” without a vote.

By its terms, the Assembly urged States to strengthen regional and international cooperation to support sustainable alternative development programmes, as well as to consider devising sustainable urban development initiatives for those affected by illicit drug‑related activities.

The Assembly then adopted omnibus draft resolution II titled, “International cooperation to address and counter the world drug problem” without a vote.  By its terms, it called on States to intensify efforts to address the drug problem based on the principle of common and shared responsibility, and through a comprehensive and balanced approach.

The Assembly then took up the report on “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/72/480), adopting without a vote the draft decision therein on the “Programme of work of the Third Committee for the seventy‑third session of the General Assembly”.

In its final action, the Assembly took note of the report “Programme planning” (document A/72/485), which contained no proposed action.

Speech by the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, at the European Council meeting on 14 and 15 December 2017

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  1. Brexit

I should like to congratulate the negotiator, Michel Barnier, on the excellent work he has done and express Parliament’s satisfaction at the unity we have shown.

In the resolution we adopted yesterday, Parliament noted the fact that sufficient progress has been made for the negotiations to move on to the second phase. Now we need to be vigilant for the next steps.

In the light of the statements made on the other side of the Channel last weekend, we want to underline that the joint report is a binding document, not an exercise in sleight of hand to enable us to move on to the second phase. There can be no discussions on future relations if the exit agreement is not applied to the letter.

The fact that ‘sufficient progress’ has been made does not mean that we have resolved all the problems. We still have a lot of work to do. Parliament will pay particularly close attention to the measures proposed to genuinely safeguard the rights of citizens and to the procedure which will be introduced to guarantee their special status.

I am also delighted that the British Government has agreed to honour its financial commitments. I never doubted that it would. As regards the issue of the Irish border, Ireland’s problems are the Union’s problems.

The United Kingdom must shed all ambiguity: the specific solution agreed for this border must not become a back door into the internal market.

As regards future relations with the United Kingdom, there are red lines which are non-negotiable: integrity of the internal market, decision-making autonomy of the Union, and third-country status, with all that that implies. In this difficult second phase as well, unity will be our shield.

We will play our part in drafting the agreement on future relations which Parliament will ultimately have to approve.

We face a series of challenges on matters which our citizens regard as priorities.

  1. Security and defence

According to the findings of the Eurobarometer survey, EU citizens want a Union which takes more effective action in the areas of security and defence. We cannot continue to rely on the military might of others. Our security, monitoring our borders, managing migration, fighting terrorism and the stability of regions immediately beyond our borders are our responsibility.  

In signing the Rome Declaration, we made a commitment to revitalise the Union, starting from a common defence. The first step is to develop a European industry and a European market which generate economies of scale and facilitate interoperability.

Twenty-five Member States have just taken an historic step forward by introducing arrangements for permanent military cooperation. The objectives include developing European defence instruments and conducting joint security operations. The EU defence fund, which is currently being discussed in Parliament and which would be used to support the security and defence industry, points in the same direction.

Our industry will benefit from spin-offs generated by research projects and the development of prototypes. The more effective use of funds at EU level will be matched by savings at national level. Common procurement procedures and common standards will enhance our ability to launch joint security operations.

We should follow the example of our space policy where European systems, such as EGNOS, Galileo and Copernicus, have helped to make us more competitive. Drawing on that example, the next budget must set aside the funds needed for proper investment in security and defence.

  1. Social, educational and cultural dimension

Globalisation and new technologies are serious concerns for our citizens, who want a Union which ensures that no one is left behind.

Digitalisation, robotics and artificial intelligence are transforming manufacturing and skills. The new jobs being created are not enough to offset those which have been lost to machines and technologies. Around half of all human activities could be replaced by automated processes.

The Union must steer this ongoing revolution, by investing in training. More effective coordination between universities, training centres and industry is essential if workers’ skills are to develop in line with changing needs.

The new EU budget should make additional resources available, not only for the Erasmus programme for students, but also for apprenticeships and traineeships for persons seeking to re-enter the labour market.

It is firms which create jobs, and for that reason any rational employment policy must be based on support for the real economy. 

Our entrepreneurs must be able to invest in Europe without facing unfair competition from businesses which deal with overcapacity problems by laying off European workers, while taking advantage of subsidies and selling their products below cost price. Parliament insisted that the new method for calculating anti-dumping duties should not impose any additional burden of proof on SMEs and take account of social and environmental dumping.

Parliament’s proposal on the Posted Workers Directive combines provisions to protect workers, enhance competitiveness and create a fairer market. I hope that an agreement can be reached with the Council as soon as possible.

If we want to create jobs, we must also focus on sectors of high labour intensity and creativity. Our history and culture, which go back thousands of years, offer potential for growth which we must exploit to the full.

I am thinking of tourism, design, the digitalisation of cultural sites, luxury goods and high-end craft products. We are not only the continent with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites; we are also still the leader in many branches of the cultural and creative industries.

In its resolution on A coherent EU policy for the cultural and creative industries, Parliament calls for measures to promote a sector which employs 12 million people.

In this sector as well, the digital revolution is opening up unprecedented prospects, provided that we come up with the right policies to govern it. Digital platforms must not be above the law. Like other firms, they must be accountable, pay taxes, guarantee transparency and safeguard social rights, minors, security, consumers and intellectual property.

The market for pirated and counterfeit goods is continuing to grow, thanks in no small part to the web. If we fail to safeguard creativity and the work done by product and fashion designers and creators of songs, films, articles and books, investment will dwindle, with serious consequences for Europe’s competitiveness.

Even more than our economy, culture is the glue which holds Europe together. Awareness of our own identity is the foundation for a strong and open Europe which sees diversity as an asset.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage, of which the European Parliament has been a strong advocate, offers an opportunity to rediscover and promote that identity and bring the Union closer to its peoples.

  1. Immigration

Our citizens are looking to us to resolve the migration crisis. They no longer accept the uncontrolled flows of migrants, pilgrimages of refugees hopping from country to country in search of asylum, mass deaths in the desert or at sea, or the appalling spectacle of markets where people are sold as slaves.

Piecemeal responses are the opposite of effective solutions. What we need instead is a strong European strategy, genuine coordination and more pooling of resources.

On the one hand, we need to step up checks at our external borders, turning back those who have no right to enter, or arranging quickly and firmly for their readmission; on the other, we need to show solidarity with those fleeing wars and persecution.

The current asylum system, which leaves countries of first entry to bear the full brunt of dealing with migrants, is not working. Parliament has approved by a wide majority an overhaul of the Dublin system, to introduce rules which increase the element of solidarity and make the system more uniform and effective. We want the system for the allocation of refugees to be automatic and to be based on fair and objective criteria, in keeping with the spirit of solidarity on which our Union has been founded from the start.

Now it is up to the Council to do its part, as quickly as possible. Although efforts to achieve a broad consensus on such a sensitive topic are laudable, it is not right to insist on unanimity at all costs in cases where the Treaties provide for decision-making by a qualified majority under the ordinary legislative procedure. The danger is not only that a decision of fundamental importance to EU citizens will be put off indefinitely, but also that Parliament will be deprived of its powers as co-legislator. As President of the European Parliament, it is my duty to safeguard its prerogatives.

At the Abidjan summit, the urgent need for us all to work together to stabilise Libya and protect human rights emerged very clearly. The African Union is calling on us to speak with one voice and coordinate our efforts.

Shutting down the central Mediterranean corridors will require investments similar in scale to those used to halt migration via the Balkan route. This money must be spent in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Niger, Chad or Mali. It must be used to train border guards and members of the security forces, or to set up reception centres under the auspices of the UN, where humanitarian protection can be provided and asylum applications dealt with.

The problem of migration, which is linked to demographics, climate, terrorism, wars and poverty, must be tackled at its root. We must offer young Africans real prospects, otherwise they will leave not in their thousands, but in their millions.

The EUR 3.4 billion investment plan for Africa, which we approved in July, is an important step in the right direction. But much greater efforts are needed if Africa is to develop a manufacturing base, farm efficiently, exploit renewable sources of energy and build up proper infrastructure.

In Abidjan I proposed that as from the next budget at least EUR 40 billion should be set aside for the investment fund. The leverage effect and synergies generated with the funding provided by the European Investment Bank could make it possible to mobilise some EUR 500 billion, thereby doubling foreign investment in Africa.

  1. Strengthening economic governance

We need to complete the Banking Union and the capital market. Reducing risks must imply pooling them.

Parliament is in favour of transforming the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund. We also support the idea of appointing an EU Finance Minister; he or she would also be a Vice-President of the Commission and chair the Eurogroup, and would have the confidence of the European Parliament after going through a hearing and approval procedure.

These reforms must go beyond mere window-dressing; what are needed are real powers, a large enough budget and democratic scrutiny.

  1. A political budget

As I emphasised at the last European Council meeting, I agree with Commissioner Stylianides on the need to develop genuine European civil protection.  We could endow ourselves with the joint capabilities and resources needed to respond promptly and more effectively to requests for assistance from Member States and neighbouring countries. In so doing, we could show our citizens the more practical face of European solidarity.

This is another example of how pooling resources in certain sectors generates efficiency gains and savings for all the Member States.

Similarly, we need to pool more resources in the areas of defence, training, culture and immigration. The Union needs a political budget which reflects citizens’ priorities. This reform should be at the top of our list, and it does not even require an amendment to the Treaties.

We must not increase the burden on citizens and SMEs – they already pay too much tax. We need to generate Community own resources by collecting revenue from those who avoid taxes at the moment.

On the basis of the Monti report, Parliament is considering a series of possibilities. These include taxes on digital platforms, which would do away with the problem of tax dumping and the territoriality of profits, and on speculative financial transactions.

I also regard bolder action against tax havens as essential.

Opening speech at the European Culture Forum, Milan – Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament

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I should like to thank Commissioner Tibor Navracsics for organising this Forum. It provides a rare opportunity to exchange views and compare experiences in relation to this vital sector.  

As an Italian, I am delighted that Milan should have been chosen to host the event marking the official start of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

We are in a city which has great symbolic significance, where the culture and creativity of the past nurture the living culture of the present.

The history of Milan mirrors that of our continent. For three millennia, it has been a trading centre, a melting pot of peoples, ideas and cultures. It stands at a crossroads: people and goods which have crossed the Alps, passed by the great lakes and travelled the northern Italian plain reach the Mediterranean from here. It is a bridge between North and South, between East and West.

Here, business, innovation and creativity have always been inseparable. Patrons, artists, entrepreneurs, artisans and scholars have been instrumental in ensuring that Milan has remained open at all times to the new, to the future.

Milan has always attracted talented people, one being Leonardo da Vinci, the man who embodied the very essence of the Renaissance, of genius, of versatility. He was a consummate artist, but also an experimenter and inventor, whose interests spanned architecture, science and engineering. He was an industrial designer before the concept even existed.

Milan Cathedral, and its Fabbrica, which has remained active down the centuries and which we will visit tomorrow with Commissioner Navracsics, is another symbol of unceasing dynamism.

This makes Milan one of the capitals of culture, of design, of fashion and of luxury goods. It is a model for the European way of life which is the envy of the whole world. Milan is living proof that history, creativity and innovation are vital to an internationally competitive and successful EU.

We are the continent with half of the UNESCO world heritage sites. Europe is still leading in several sectors of the cultural and creative industries. Wherever you go in the world, Europe is a synonym for style, know-how and beauty.

This is our leadership. A leadership which cannot be delocalised and which has to serve as our springboard for political and economic renewal.

Culture and creativity as factors for growth and job creation

Digitalisation, robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence are wreaking drastic changes in our working and private lives. We are in the throes of an industrial revolution in which the new jobs being created are not enough to offset those being lost by people who have been replaced by machines and technologies.

Recent research suggests that around half of all human activities could be replaced by automated processes. In France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, 54 million jobs will be at risk in the next few years alone.

The Union must steer this process of change, by investing more in training and by focusing on sectors in which manual labour and creativity will remain essential. I am thinking of tourism, design, the digitalisation of cultural sites, luxury goods and high-end craft products.

Cultural heritage and European creativity can be key factors in generating growth and jobs.

By adopting the Ehler-Morgano report on A coherent EU policy for the cultural and creative industries, the European Parliament issued a clear call to tap the potential of this sector.

The cultural and creative industries employ 12 million people, 7.5% of the EU workforce, and generate a turnover of EUR 509 billion. The sectors which draw most on intellectual property account for one-quarter of those jobs and one-third of that turnover.

Authors, artists and designers are the main sources of that creativity, which spills over massively into other sectors and contributes to the excellence of European products.

Let’s take luxury goods as an example: it is a market worth EUR 1000 billion in which Europe is the leader, accounting for 70% of production. 

Some 62% of the luxury goods manufactured in Europe are sold abroad and they make up 10% of the EU’s total exports.

Synergies between tourism and the cultural and creative industries

Synergies between the cultural and creative industries and tourism are another key engine for growth.

Already today, tourism accounts for 10% of EU GDP and 10% of jobs in the Union. Between now and 2030, the number of visitors to Europe will double, from 1 to 2 billion.

Europe can cater for the travel interests of this new emerging class, many of whom are Asians, by exploiting its historical heritage, its way of life and its creativity. The aim is to consolidate our leading position, by increasing the number of tourists who come to Europe from the current figure of 550 million to 700 million by 2020. Over the next 10 years, we can create up to 5 million jobs.

Manufacturing excellence and the creative industries attract tourism, in the same way that tourism fosters exports. This goes for clothing, cheese and wine just as much as for cars, luxury hotels and the audiovisual sector. People in China who buy our high-quality products or watch films set in Europe will be encouraged to visit our continent.

2018 will also be the Year of EU-China Tourism, another opportunity we must not waste. The official launch, which I will have the pleasure of attending, will take place in Venice on 19 January 2018, in the presence of the Chinese Prime Minister. It is a prime example of cultural diplomacy and will generate growth and lead to closer cooperation with China.

The digital revolution – opportunities and challenges

The digital revolution is opening up unprecedented possibilities: three-dimensional virtual tours of museums and cathedrals; ‘journeys through time’ or ‘augmented reality experiences’ at archaeological sites; new kinds of online booking and shopping services; and the availability of audiovisual products on demand. By 2020, 20% of purchases of branded goods will be made online.

Political governance of this revolution is essential. Economic opportunities and new freedoms for consumers and firms must not be allowed to degenerate into a free-for-all, and they must not serve to legitimise the piracy which enables people to enrich themselves at the expense of those who create content.

The rules must be the same for all businesses, whether they operate online or offline. Digital platforms must not be above the law. Like other firms, they must be accountable, pay taxes, guarantee transparency and safeguard social rights, minors, security, consumers and intellectual property.

The market for pirated and counterfeit goods is continuing to grow, thanks in no small part to the web. Anyone who visits platforms in order to enjoy, free of charge, audiovisual content and artistic images, read the news or find information about hotels and restaurants is lining the pockets of the web giants. They are earning billions through advertising, the provision of intermediary services and the mining of personal data, and their coffers swell whenever people click on their pages in search of content created by others.

Those who once touted themselves as champions of freedom and innovation are now acting like the feudal lords who, in the Middle Ages, imposed tolls on anyone who used the roads they controlled from their castles.

The dominant positions which many platforms enjoy in the areas of commerce, bookings, the provision of news and online advertising – positions made possible by regulatory disparities – are suffocating SMIs and creativity.

Music rights holders receive more in royalties from bars with a few dozen customers than from the people who make their works available to millions of people on the internet. Amazon has sent small publishing houses to the wall. Google and Facebook use news reports and content to sell advertising, without offering the journalists concerned proper remuneration in return.

The web giants create very few jobs in Europe, and pay derisory amounts of tax, avoiding most of what would be an annual bill of roughly EUR 20 billion. In Italy, they pay just EUR 11.7 million.

The digital single market is the main driving force behind the cultural and creative industries. It makes it possible to disseminate content and branded products and to launch start-ups.

It is essential that this market safeguard the work done by product and fashion designers and creators of songs, TV series, films, articles and books. If we fail to protect creativity, investment will dwindle, with disastrous consequences for Europe’s competitiveness.

The most recent European legislation on copyright dates back to 2001, to a time before the web giants existed.

Commissioners Bieńkowska and Gabriel are working to complete the digital market, and Parliament is calling for measures to promote creativity and equal conditions for everyone.

Attracting investment

The cultural and creative industries face a series of obstacles which are stifling their potential. Access to finance, for example, especially for SMEs, remains a problem.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage will also be the year in which we discuss the next multiannual budget.

If we are to revitalise the Union and provide our citizens with answers, then we need a budget that reflects their priorities. Investment in education and culture must be increased.

Other sources of financing can be found, without asking the public to make further sacrifices, by collecting taxes from those who are currently not paying them – starting with web platforms.

At the same time, existing sources of funding need to be used more effectively. EU regional funds, in synergy with Horizon 2020, the European Fund for Strategic Investments and the European Investment Bank, can be used to provide the guarantees needed to back projects in the fields of culture and creativity. This could contribute, for example, to the rediscovery, harnessing and digitisation of Europe’s cultural heritage – with a corresponding increase in visitor numbers and jobs.

It is also vital to invest more in skills and training. There is a shortage of museum managers, skilled chefs, digital experts, cultural mediators, designers and programmers, but also of the manual skills needed to produce high-end goods.

Conclusion

Awareness of our own identity is the foundation for a strong and open Europe, one which does not just accept diversity, but regards it as an asset. Being Italian means being European. We have no need for new barriers or borders or parochial nationalism.

Drawing on our deep-rooted faith in humankind, we rose out of the ashes of war and put the freedom and dignity of the individual at the centre of our European project.

Our identity is one born on the shores of the Mediterranean and it has been shaped by openness to exchanges of all kinds – of goods, of ideas and of culture. It has Judeo-Christian roots, and was forged in abbeys and universities, during the Humanist period, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage, of which the European Parliament has been a strong advocate, offers an opportunity to rediscover and promote that identity and bring the Union closer to its peoples.

Even more than our economy, culture is the glue which holds Europe together, and culture must be the starting point for our efforts to revitalise our Union.

Opening speech at the European Culture Forum, Milan – Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament

(check against delivery)

I should like to thank Commissioner Tibor Navracsics for organising this Forum. It provides a rare opportunity to exchange views and compare experiences in relation to this vital sector.  

As an Italian, I am delighted that Milan should have been chosen to host the event marking the official start of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

We are in a city which has great symbolic significance, where the culture and creativity of the past nurture the living culture of the present.

The history of Milan mirrors that of our continent. For three millennia, it has been a trading centre, a melting pot of peoples, ideas and cultures. It stands at a crossroads: people and goods which have crossed the Alps, passed by the great lakes and travelled the northern Italian plain reach the Mediterranean from here. It is a bridge between North and South, between East and West.

Here, business, innovation and creativity have always been inseparable. Patrons, artists, entrepreneurs, artisans and scholars have been instrumental in ensuring that Milan has remained open at all times to the new, to the future.

Milan has always attracted talented people, one being Leonardo da Vinci, the man who embodied the very essence of the Renaissance, of genius, of versatility. He was a consummate artist, but also an experimenter and inventor, whose interests spanned architecture, science and engineering. He was an industrial designer before the concept even existed.

Milan Cathedral, and its Fabbrica, which has remained active down the centuries and which we will visit tomorrow with Commissioner Navracsics, is another symbol of unceasing dynamism.

This makes Milan one of the capitals of culture, of design, of fashion and of luxury goods. It is a model for the European way of life which is the envy of the whole world. Milan is living proof that history, creativity and innovation are vital to an internationally competitive and successful EU.

We are the continent with half of the UNESCO world heritage sites. Europe is still leading in several sectors of the cultural and creative industries. Wherever you go in the world, Europe is a synonym for style, know-how and beauty.

This is our leadership. A leadership which cannot be delocalised and which has to serve as our springboard for political and economic renewal.

Culture and creativity as factors for growth and job creation

Digitalisation, robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence are wreaking drastic changes in our working and private lives. We are in the throes of an industrial revolution in which the new jobs being created are not enough to offset those being lost by people who have been replaced by machines and technologies.

Recent research suggests that around half of all human activities could be replaced by automated processes. In France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, 54 million jobs will be at risk in the next few years alone.

The Union must steer this process of change, by investing more in training and by focusing on sectors in which manual labour and creativity will remain essential. I am thinking of tourism, design, the digitalisation of cultural sites, luxury goods and high-end craft products.

Cultural heritage and European creativity can be key factors in generating growth and jobs.

By adopting the Ehler-Morgano report on A coherent EU policy for the cultural and creative industries, the European Parliament issued a clear call to tap the potential of this sector.

The cultural and creative industries employ 12 million people, 7.5% of the EU workforce, and generate a turnover of EUR 509 billion. The sectors which draw most on intellectual property account for one-quarter of those jobs and one-third of that turnover.

Authors, artists and designers are the main sources of that creativity, which spills over massively into other sectors and contributes to the excellence of European products.

Let’s take luxury goods as an example: it is a market worth EUR 1000 billion in which Europe is the leader, accounting for 70% of production. 

Some 62% of the luxury goods manufactured in Europe are sold abroad and they make up 10% of the EU’s total exports.

Synergies between tourism and the cultural and creative industries

Synergies between the cultural and creative industries and tourism are another key engine for growth.

Already today, tourism accounts for 10% of EU GDP and 10% of jobs in the Union. Between now and 2030, the number of visitors to Europe will double, from 1 to 2 billion.

Europe can cater for the travel interests of this new emerging class, many of whom are Asians, by exploiting its historical heritage, its way of life and its creativity. The aim is to consolidate our leading position, by increasing the number of tourists who come to Europe from the current figure of 550 million to 700 million by 2020. Over the next 10 years, we can create up to 5 million jobs.

Manufacturing excellence and the creative industries attract tourism, in the same way that tourism fosters exports. This goes for clothing, cheese and wine just as much as for cars, luxury hotels and the audiovisual sector. People in China who buy our high-quality products or watch films set in Europe will be encouraged to visit our continent.

2018 will also be the Year of EU-China Tourism, another opportunity we must not waste. The official launch, which I will have the pleasure of attending, will take place in Venice on 19 January 2018, in the presence of the Chinese Prime Minister. It is a prime example of cultural diplomacy and will generate growth and lead to closer cooperation with China.

The digital revolution – opportunities and challenges

The digital revolution is opening up unprecedented possibilities: three-dimensional virtual tours of museums and cathedrals; ‘journeys through time’ or ‘augmented reality experiences’ at archaeological sites; new kinds of online booking and shopping services; and the availability of audiovisual products on demand. By 2020, 20% of purchases of branded goods will be made online.

Political governance of this revolution is essential. Economic opportunities and new freedoms for consumers and firms must not be allowed to degenerate into a free-for-all, and they must not serve to legitimise the piracy which enables people to enrich themselves at the expense of those who create content.

The rules must be the same for all businesses, whether they operate online or offline. Digital platforms must not be above the law. Like other firms, they must be accountable, pay taxes, guarantee transparency and safeguard social rights, minors, security, consumers and intellectual property.

The market for pirated and counterfeit goods is continuing to grow, thanks in no small part to the web. Anyone who visits platforms in order to enjoy, free of charge, audiovisual content and artistic images, read the news or find information about hotels and restaurants is lining the pockets of the web giants. They are earning billions through advertising, the provision of intermediary services and the mining of personal data, and their coffers swell whenever people click on their pages in search of content created by others.

Those who once touted themselves as champions of freedom and innovation are now acting like the feudal lords who, in the Middle Ages, imposed tolls on anyone who used the roads they controlled from their castles.

The dominant positions which many platforms enjoy in the areas of commerce, bookings, the provision of news and online advertising – positions made possible by regulatory disparities – are suffocating SMIs and creativity.

Music rights holders receive more in royalties from bars with a few dozen customers than from the people who make their works available to millions of people on the internet. Amazon has sent small publishing houses to the wall. Google and Facebook use news reports and content to sell advertising, without offering the journalists concerned proper remuneration in return.

The web giants create very few jobs in Europe, and pay derisory amounts of tax, avoiding most of what would be an annual bill of roughly EUR 20 billion. In Italy, they pay just EUR 11.7 million.

The digital single market is the main driving force behind the cultural and creative industries. It makes it possible to disseminate content and branded products and to launch start-ups.

It is essential that this market safeguard the work done by product and fashion designers and creators of songs, TV series, films, articles and books. If we fail to protect creativity, investment will dwindle, with disastrous consequences for Europe’s competitiveness.

The most recent European legislation on copyright dates back to 2001, to a time before the web giants existed.

Commissioners Bieńkowska and Gabriel are working to complete the digital market, and Parliament is calling for measures to promote creativity and equal conditions for everyone.

Attracting investment

The cultural and creative industries face a series of obstacles which are stifling their potential. Access to finance, for example, especially for SMEs, remains a problem.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage will also be the year in which we discuss the next multiannual budget.

If we are to revitalise the Union and provide our citizens with answers, then we need a budget that reflects their priorities. Investment in education and culture must be increased.

Other sources of financing can be found, without asking the public to make further sacrifices, by collecting taxes from those who are currently not paying them – starting with web platforms.

At the same time, existing sources of funding need to be used more effectively. EU regional funds, in synergy with Horizon 2020, the European Fund for Strategic Investments and the European Investment Bank, can be used to provide the guarantees needed to back projects in the fields of culture and creativity. This could contribute, for example, to the rediscovery, harnessing and digitisation of Europe’s cultural heritage – with a corresponding increase in visitor numbers and jobs.

It is also vital to invest more in skills and training. There is a shortage of museum managers, skilled chefs, digital experts, cultural mediators, designers and programmers, but also of the manual skills needed to produce high-end goods.

Conclusion

Awareness of our own identity is the foundation for a strong and open Europe, one which does not just accept diversity, but regards it as an asset. Being Italian means being European. We have no need for new barriers or borders or parochial nationalism.

Drawing on our deep-rooted faith in humankind, we rose out of the ashes of war and put the freedom and dignity of the individual at the centre of our European project.

Our identity is one born on the shores of the Mediterranean and it has been shaped by openness to exchanges of all kinds – of goods, of ideas and of culture. It has Judeo-Christian roots, and was forged in abbeys and universities, during the Humanist period, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage, of which the European Parliament has been a strong advocate, offers an opportunity to rediscover and promote that identity and bring the Union closer to its peoples.

Even more than our economy, culture is the glue which holds Europe together, and culture must be the starting point for our efforts to revitalise our Union.