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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.

Agroforestry should play a bigger role in tackling climate change

Never has it been so pressing to address climate change. So let’s hurry to embrace a proven part of the solution. The radical (but not new) concept of agroforestry – be it integrating trees to create shade over coffee bushes, adding trees to Colombian cattle ranches, or managing and encouraging shea trees to flourish amid millet crops in the Sahel – must move to centre stage.

The Global Carbon Project estimates that 2017 will see a two percent rise in worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, reversing the downward trend of the previous few years.

Almost a quarter of these emissions come from agriculture and the conversion of forests and wetlands into farmland.

This year is also set to be one of the hottest three ever recorded, according to the World Meteorological Organization. And, unlike 2016, 2017 has managed this even without a temperature-boosting El Niño weather system.

Flash floods in Southeast Asia, drought in East Africa, and melting glaciers in Latin America are just three examples of the extreme weather events linked to climate change that affect all corners of the world.

This is, truly, a global disaster, and one largely of our own making.

Solution at hand

But we also have the power to mitigate global warming, through reducing emissions of CO2 and increasing its absorption by expanding or protecting “carbon sinks” such as forests.

One especially effective but still yet to be fully recognised mitigation strategy is agroforestry – the purposeful regeneration, planting, and maintenance of trees and woody bushes on farms and rangeland.

Already, almost a billion hectares of agricultural land across the world contains trees that farming families deliberately manage side by side with their crops and livestock. Around 1.2 billion people depend on these agroforestry systems.

The soil, vegetation, and biomass on every hectare of such land can capture 3.3 tonnes of carbon per year – much more than that captured by land without trees.

Recent research indicates that tree cover on agricultural land across the planet absorbs some 0.75 gigatonnes of carbon a year. That’s a sizable chunk of the 9.75 gigatonnes of CO2 the world emits annually.

Notable fringe benefits

As well as absorbing carbon, the trees and shrubs grown among crops and on pastureland deliver a range of lucrative benefits to farmers, such as timber, fuel, fruit, oil, nuts, and animal fodder.

Nitrogen-fixing trees also enrich soils by withdrawing the element, which is essential for plant growth, from the atmosphere. This can lessen the need for chemical nitrogen fertilisers, which have a powerful global warming effect, both as they are made and as they eke back into the atmosphere.

Finally, the presence of trees on agricultural land improves groundwater recharge and regulation of water, thereby increasing yields of crops, milk, and meat.

Agroforestry therefore not only mitigates global warming, but also helps farmers adapt to the often devastating effects of climate change, such as floods, droughts, and unpredictable rainfall patterns.

Without the additional sources of income trees can deliver, farmers whose crops are damaged or destroyed by such weather shocks are often forced to take steps that drive them further into poverty, such as selling tools and consuming seeds reserved for planting.

Research conducted in 2011 in western Kenya by the organisation I work for found that “agroforestry improves farm productivity, off-farm incomes, wealth, and the environmental conditions of… farms”, and that it releases farmers from “detrimental coping strategies”.

Gaining recognition

In the last year, as the Armageddon facing the Earth concentrated the minds of policymakers and activists, agroforestry has received some much welcome recognition and accolades.

Drawdown, a major international project based on field research by 200 scientists, features two forms of agroforestry in its list of 100 solutions to global warming that are already in use. The solutions are ranked by the extent to which they would reduce CO2 emissions by 2050 if they were adopted at realistic rates.

Silvopastoralism, where trees are combined with pasture, increasing carbon sequestration up to tenfold, comes in at number nine, ahead of nuclear power, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.

Creating a canopy of tall trees over one or more layers of lower-lying crops (coffee and cacao are common examples) – a practice known as multistrata agroforestry – is listed in 28th place.

Governments of developing states are also turning to agroforestry with a lot of hope. More than 20, including agricultural giant India, cite agroforestry in their climate change action plans under the Paris Agreement.

Scientists have been aware of the benefits of agroforestry for decades and farmers for millennia, and the practice is gradually expanding every year. But with 22.2 million square kilometres of agricultural land on the planet, there’s a long way to go.

Donors and development banks need to wake up to the importance of trees in farming systems. Too many promote an agricultural vision of large treeless fields. While this may look modern, it is profoundly high-risk.  Without trees, how will groundwater recharge? How will soil carbon be maintained? What will stop soil blowing away? Where will pollinators forage?

Agroforestry might not be a silver bullet, but it has a vital role in cushioning farmers from the harshness of weather patterns gone awry, and the world from the downward spiral of climate change.  

cw/am

Lift in global economy prompts opportunities to tackle deep-rooted development issues – UN

11 December 2017 &#150 A three per cent upturn in the global economy has paved the way to readjust policy towards longer-term issues, such as addressing climate change, tackling existing inequalities and removing institutional obstacles to development, according to a new United Nations report on global economic prospects.

Launched in New York on Monday, among other things, the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP ) 2018 offers policy imperatives that include tackling inequality and delinking economic growth from environmental degradation.

“The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018 demonstrates that current macroeconomic conditions offer policy-makers greater scope to address some of the deep-rooted issues that continue to hamper progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” stated UN Secretary-General António Guterres in the Foreword.

According to the report, 2017 global economic growth had reached three per cent – its highest since 2011 – as crisis-related fragilities and the adverse effects of other recent shocks have subsided.

The improvement is widespread. Roughly two-thirds of the world’s countries have experienced stronger growth in 2017 than in the previous year, and movement is expected to remain steady at three per cent in 2018 and 2019.

Noting that the recent pickup in global growth stems predominantly from firmer growth in several developed economies, the report states that East and South Asia remain the world most dynamic regions.

Despite the improved short-term outlook, the global economy continues to face longer-term challenges, including trade policy changes and rising geopolitical tensions.

The report highlighted that the improved macroeconomic situation has opened a door for reorienting policies, including to increase economic diversification; reduce inequality; support long-term investment; and tackle institutional deficiencies. It noted that addressing these challenges can generate stronger investment and productivity, higher job creation and more sustainable medium-term economic growth.

Uneven Growth

However, the recent economic improvements have been unevenly distributed across countries and regions.

Through 2019, negligible per capita income growth is expected in several parts of Africa, Western Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean – underscoring the urgent need to foster an environment that will both accelerate medium-term growth prospects and tackle poverty through policies that address income and opportunity inequalities.

The report also found that – hindered by institutional deficiencies, inadequate basic infrastructure and greater exposure levels to natural disasters, along with challenges to security and political instability – very few least developed countries (LDCs ) are expected to reach the Sustainable Development Goal target for GDP growth of “at least 7 per cent” (SDG 8.1) in the near term.

In addition to mobilizing financial resources to meet LDC investment needs, policies must also focus on conflict prevention and removing barriers that continue to hinder more rapid progress.

After remaining flat for three consecutive years, preliminary estimates suggest that 2017 global energy-related CO2 emissions increased, according to WESP.

“While the upturn in global growth is a welcome sign of a healthier economy, it is important to remember that this may come at an environmental cost,” said Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin.

As the frequency of weather-related shocks continues to rise, the urgent need to build resilience against climate change and prioritize environmental protection is becoming more prevalent.

International shipping and aviation emission polices, which do not fall under the purview of the Paris Agreement, must be strengthened as their emissions continue to grow faster than those from road transport.

“This calls for stronger efforts to delink economic growth and environmental degradation – as also emphasized by the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn last month,” stressed Mr. Liu.

Notice to members – Petition No 0984/2016 by Samuel Martin Sosa (Spanish) on wolves south of the River Duero – PE 604.585v02-00 – Committee on Petitions

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General Assembly: Plenary

Note:  A complete summary of today’s General Assembly meetings will be made available after their conclusion.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

KATE NEILSON (New Zealand) introduced the draft resolution, “International legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction” (document A/72/L.7).  The text would have the Assembly decide to convene an international meeting, determine the conference’s start date and its timing, as well as the necessary details to ensure its smooth functioning.  Noting that New Zealand had also co-sponsored two draft resolutions to be introduced by other speakers, she said her delegation further aligned itself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The fore mentioned draft text on areas beyond national jurisdiction would have the Assembly decide that the conference would begin in 2018, with further meetings scheduled for 2019 and 2020, she continued.  It also laid out the conference’s modalities, requested the Secretary-General to nominate a president or presidents of the conference, and asked the United Nations Secretariat to support it.  To date, the text was supported by 133 co-sponsors, she said, expressing hope that additional sponsors would come forward and that the Assembly would adopt it by consensus.  By other terms of the text, the Assembly would decide that the topics to be addressed at the conference would include marine genetic resources, area-based management tools including marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments and capacity-building, and the transfer of marine technology.

THEMBILE JOYINI (South Africa), introducing an omnibus draft resolution titled “Oceans and the Law of the Sea” (document A/72/L.18), said the text recalled the Assembly’s annual resolutions on oceans and the Law of the Sea.  Underscoring the importance of the text on areas beyond national jurisdiction as one critical element, he said the adoption of an international legally binding instrument under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was potentially one of the most significant in international environmental law-making, promising to address the Convention’s legal, governance, regulatory and implementation gaps.  The draft resolution on oceans and the Law of the Sea, meanwhile, welcomed progress in the work of the International Seabed Authority on draft regulations for the exploitation of mineral resources in what was known as the “Area”.

Noting that the Area and its resources were the common heritage of mankind — and meant to benefit humankind as a whole — he said the Authority therefore had a fundamental role to play in ensuring that an appropriate regulatory regime was established in accordance with the Convention.  In addition, it should provide adequate security of tenure for future exploitation of the mineral resources of the Area, while ensuring the effective protection for the marine environment.  Stressing that the clear and literal meaning of the Convention’s article 145 made plain that the Authority had a role to play in the preservation and conservation of the marine environment, he said that solemn responsibility must be carried out faithfully.  The objectives of part XI of the Convention would only be realized when the world moved to the mining phase, which must be accompanied by benefit sharing.  Without such sharing, he warned that “the strong would get stronger, the rich would get richer, and among the rich themselves there would arise an increasing and insuperable differentiation between two or three and the remainder.”

He went on to say that, by other terms of the 56‑page text, the Assembly would also make specific recommendations in such areas as capacity-building; the peaceful settlement of disputes; the continental shelf and the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf; maritime safety; marine biodiversity; marine science; and the global process for reporting on the state of the marine environment, including socioeconomic aspects.  In addition, the Assembly would express serious concern about the number of States Parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea who were in arrears of their assessed contributions to the International Seabed Authority, as well as about the low attendance at the annual sessions of the Authority’s Assembly.

ANDREAS MOTZFELDT KRAVIK (Norway) introduced the draft resolution, “Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments” (document  A/72/L.12).

Fisheries provided a vital source of food, employment, trade and economic well-being for people throughout the world, he noted.  The draft addressed critical issues, such as achieving sustainable fisheries, combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and addressing fishing overcapacity and improving subregional and regional cooperation to achieve sustainable development.  The resolution also highlighted the importance of responsible practices for conservation of fisheries resources and the sustainable management and development of fisheries, and recalled the entry into force of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

He said that the text would have the Assembly call on all States that had not done so to become parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.  The Assembly would also call on States and regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements to assess the risks and potential adverse impacts of climate change with respect to fish stocks, and consider them when establishing conservation and management measures and identifying options to reduce risks and adverse impacts.

Encouraging States to apply precautionary and ecosystem-based approaches when adopting and implementing conservation and management measures, the draft resolution would call upon all States that had not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Convention’s 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and to implement its provisions in their national legislation, as well as regional fisheries management organizations in which they participated.

Proclaiming 5 June as the “International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing” — and inviting the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to serve as lead agency for the Day — he also said that the text would have the Assembly make recommendations in such areas as monitoring, control and surveillance; compliance and enforcement; fishing overcapacity; large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing; and fisheries by-catch and discards.  Among other things, it would encourage States to improve the understanding of the causes and impacts of forced labour and human trafficking in the fishing and aquaculture industries, and to further consider actions to combat those practices, including by raising awareness.

Statements

DIEGO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, thanked the facilitators in drafting the proposed resolution on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity, saying that consultation had been conducted in an open and transparent way.  Noting that the Group of 77 was fully committed to the process, he said the draft text represented a compromise to move forward to developing an international legally binding instrument.

He also welcomed the Assembly’s consideration of convening an intergovernmental conference in 2018.  That meeting would take up the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by General Assembly resolution 69/292 on the elements of the text of an international legally binding instrument under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), speaking for the African Group, said conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction was crucial for the future of humankind.  Adding that all member States of his group were co-sponsors of the draft resolution, he pointed out that few drafts not directly initiated by the African Group enjoyed such support within it.

The Group fully supported the decision to convene an intergovernmental conference in 2018 to elaborate a new treaty on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, he continued.  However, it was regrettable that the conference would be held in September, only a few days before the High-level week of the seventy‑third United Nations General Assembly.  Underlining the importance of providing financial contributions to the Voluntary Trust Fund to support participation of African States at the conference, he urged stakeholders in a position to do so to widely contribute to that Fund.

COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the Community remained committed to the full implementation of the Convention on the Law of the Sea.  As the cornerstone for regulating all activities pertaining to oceans and seas, the Convention was a central framework for addressing the closely interrelated nature of ocean space problems.  Like many other small island developing countries, the member States of CARICOM were highly vulnerable to the effects of marine pollution, ocean acidification and their impacts on fish stocks and marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, as well as the effect of climate change on sea level rise.  Those factors affected their fishing communities, tourism and its people and economies at all levels.

As evidenced by the recent hurricanes Irma and Maria, the region remained highly susceptible to extreme weather events, but its resolve to better respond to those challenges had strengthened, he said.  Antigua and Barbuda was the first CARICOM country to ban single plastic bags and was expanding the ban to include polystyrene or Styrofoam containers.  St. Vincent and the Grenadines had committed to conserve and sustainably manage at least 20 per cent of its marine and coastal environment by 2020.  Jamaica’s goal was to strengthen the regime governing its protected areas through promulgation of a Cays Management Policy, a new protected areas policy and overarching protected areas legislation.  Guyana was developing a suite of interrelated services to better manage its coastal ecosystem, including data gathering, social mobilization and capacity development.

JANE J. CHIGIYAL (Federated States of Micronesia), speaking for the Pacific small island developing States, said the serious and mounting threats to oceans constituted a serious challenge to achieving sustainable development.  Healthy and productive oceans and seas were essential for the development of any country, particularly those in the Pacific.  She welcomed the first United Nations conference to support the implementation of the goals on oceans.  Pacific small island developing States were not alone in reacting with deep concern to the threats facing the world’s oceans, she noted.

Climate change would be the defining security challenge of the century, she went on to say, reiterating the call for the appointment of a United Nations climate and security expert.  In a similar vein, she noted the relevant role of United Nations reports in lending support and knowledge to the region.  The importance of healthy fisheries could not be overstated.  In particular, tuna had been a source of food and livelihood for the Pacific for centuries.  That fish stock’s decline was of serious concern, she continued, adding that she was pleased to see a “Day of Tuna” included in the new resolution.

ALI’IOAIGA FETURI ELISAIA (Samoa), speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, recalled that in September the bloc had endorsed “The Blue Pacific — our security through sustainable development, management and conservation” as its new narrative for the region.  The importance of tuna had been increasing, he noted, with more attention being directed to conservation measures and promoting more sustainable fishing practices in tuna fisheries.  During the first half of 2017, the Pacific Islands Forum had focused its work on the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, held in June.  More than 1,400 voluntary commitments had been registered to drive the Goal’s implementation forward, with Forum members pledging more than 100 voluntary commitments and launching new partnerships.  In September, Forum leaders had also pledged to fast-track developing policies to ban single-use plastic bags, plastic and Styrofoam packaging.

The bloc’s leaders had called for commencing United Nations negotiations for a new Law of the Sea Implementing Agreement on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Areas beyond National Jurisdiction, he continued.  In that regard, he welcomed the successful conclusion in July of the fourth meeting of the Preparatory Committee and looked forward to the intergovernmental conference mandated by the draft resolution on that topic (document A/72/L.7).  In June, an informal consultative process had examined the effects of climate change on oceans, looking at the science as well as the scale of effects.  Considering that the majority of the Forum members were small island States, effects such as ocean warming, acidification, sea level rises and others had profound socioeconomic consequences for them, highlighting their vulnerability.  More support and sustainable funding for ocean-related activities were needed to mitigate and build resilience against the effects of climate change on oceans.

JOANNE ADAMSON (European Union) said that the resolution, “Oceans and the Law of the Sea”, served to focus on issues in the marine domain, including fisheries and the marine environment.  The second resolution to be adopted on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea reflected customary international law and established the overarching legal framework within which all activities in oceans and seas must be carried out.  The third resolution aimed for a new implementing agreement under the Conventions on the Law of the Sea, addressing the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.  Discussions and negotiations on that instrument would enable the General Assembly to convene an intergovernmental conference to negotiate a new implementing agreement of the Convention.  However, she voiced concern that one paragraph of recommendations was not an element that generated convergence among most delegations.

Turning to the resolution on sustainable fisheries, she expressed appreciation for the importance it accorded to the need to effectively manage fisheries methods.  One of the main impediments to achieving sustainable fisheries was illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, she said, urging all States to sign up to the FAO Port State Measures Agreement.  She noted that the topics chosen for the next meetings of the States Parties to the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement were highly relevant, and should help to improve fisheries management in line with the recommendations from the 2016 review conference.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, said 2017 had been a fruitful year in the context of developing an internationally legally binding instrument under the 1982 Convention on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

“Following years of discussion, we have finally arrived at a moment where we can expect to embark on intergovernmental, text-based negotiations on the proposed legally binding instrument,” he said, underlining the important recommendations pertaining to the interest of the Group in that regard.  The needs of those nations must be considered to be cross-cutting in nature across the topics identified for inclusion in the proposed legally binding instrument.  As well, the Voluntary Trust Fund played an important role in supporting delegates and experts from least developed countries to participate in the negotiation process.

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) said the oceans not only provided a livelihood for millions of people through sustaining food security and maritime trade, but also regulated the climate and were an important source of renewable energy.  As a small island State, the oceans and seas were inextricably linked to his country’s survival and wellbeing.  As for the International Seabed Authority, he welcomed the increased outreach by its Secretariat and its restructuring efforts to improve the Authority’s efficiency.  Concerning the preparatory process addressing the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, he expressed support for the draft resolution on the convening of an intergovernmental conference to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under the Convention.  Towards that end, he called for a consensual approach that ensured no party was left behind.  Turning to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, he called for a concerted and collective action to address ocean issues on a global scale.

ISABELLE ROSABRUNETTO (Monaco) said that the complexity of challenges facing the world called for a holistic response, particularly in the area of ocean conservation.  The international community must take part in concrete, effective and multi-party partnerships, she added, noting that protection of the environment was linked to the good health of whole societies.  The human impact on the environment ecosystem must be further studied.  All countries benefitted from the use of marine resources and environment protection.  She noted several programmes her country was taking part in to strengthen capacity-building and scientific cooperation.  There was still much work to be done, she said, noting studies showing that marine protected areas played a critical role in combating climate change.  Monaco had participated in several regional and international conferences, and had recently hosted a conference on the Mediterranean Sea.  She also said it was essential to evaluate trends of production and consumption.

JUN HASEBE (Japan), expressing support for the work of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Seabed Authority, said a balanced approach to the exploitation of the deep seabed — taking environmental conservation into account — was needed.  Japan would continue to engage constructively toward the adoption of a rational Exploitation Code in that regard.  Bearing in mind the importance of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, he said that his country, alongside the United Nations University, would hold an international symposium in Tokyo on 14 December aimed at raising greater awareness of the Commission’s achievements.  As for maritime safety and security, he underlined the importance of responding to piracy and armed robbery against ships.  With regards to marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, he noted that his delegation had co-sponsored the related draft resolution, adding that he looked forward to contributing to discussions in the forthcoming international conference leading to a well-balanced, effective and universal legally binding instrument.

CAITLIN WILSON (Australia), associating herself with the Pacific Islands Forum, welcomed the annual omnibus resolution on Oceans and the Law of the Sea.  The Convention compelled countries to cooperate to conserve the living resources of the high seas, while also guaranteeing a suite of rights, such as navigation rights, which were vital to shipping and trading nations such as hers.  Turning to illicit wildlife trafficking, she pointed out that it threatened the survival of marine species such as corals, clams, seahorses and turtles.  Transnational criminal networks often used marine routes as part of their trafficking supply chain, she said, adding that the resolution highlighted the relevance of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes in addressing that issue.

MOHAMMAD H. M. S. ALAJMI (Kuwait) said that the maritime transport sector was considered the primary factor for trade and economic growth for most countries.  Ships transported some 80 per cent of goods around the world.  Therefore, piracy and terrorism aimed at ships constituted a serious threat to trade and those working on ships.  “We cannot defeat such challenges without the concerted efforts of the international community,” he said, urging collaboration and cooperation among countries.  He also called on all Member States to launch joint endeavours that would allow all to benefit from marine resources.  Furthermore, all Member States must commit to relevant international treaties and promote international peace and security.

MICHAEL BONSER (Canada) reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the sustainable management of its fisheries, as well as to surpassing the international marine conservation targets.  After years of effort, the international community was about to enter a critical phase in the development of the Agreement addressing the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.  Stressing that scientific evidence pointed to climate change as one of the greatest threats of the current era, he highlighted its widespread impacts on oceans, ranging from coastal flooding to the expanding melt of sea ice in the Arctic.  Canadian marine scientists were pursuing research on climate change and ocean acidification through the Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program which aimed at informing future policy development and evidence-based resource management decisions.

MATTHIAS G. PALSSON (Iceland), noting that livelihoods in his country had depended on sustainable use of ocean resources for centuries, said that sea law had never been more challenging due to the need to respond to the results of human activity.  The effects of climate change were already being felt in his country.  Concerted international action was needed to protect Arctic waters, he stressed, reporting that his country and nine other parties had last week negotiated a draft agreement to prevent unregulated fisheries in parts of that region.  Marine litter, as well as comprehensive implementation of the various ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals were also priorities.  Iceland had been an active participant in negotiations on a framework for biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.  He urged that every effort be made to reach a consensus-based text on that topic despite its complexity.  However, issues that were already subject to adequate international regimes should not be re-negotiated or subject to conflicting regimes, he said, adding that it was critical to take all the time needed to produce a successful and long-lasting outcome.

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines) said that sustainable ocean management was critical for an archipelagic country such as his.  Oceans were not only a source of life-giving goods, everything about them were living.  As a party to the 1995 Fish Stocks Agreement, the Philippines was committed to the conservation of, and sustainable access to standing and highly migratory fish stocks — within and beyond the exclusive economic zone.  Collective neglect and greedy exhaustion of the oceans’ resources for immediate gain, and at the cost of irreversible damage, had resulted in ever smaller fisheries catch and in the worsening illicit trafficking in protected species.  It also had resulted in ocean acidification, coral bleaching, sea-level rise, coastal flooding and deadlier tropical cyclones brought on by ocean warming.  His country supported the strengthening of capacity-building, along with the transfer of marine technology, education and the sharing of traditional knowledge on oceans issues, including in the prevention of the smuggling of migrants and human trafficking by sea and in fighting piracy.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea struck a delicate balance between States’ rights and obligations; that must always be carefully respected.  Expressing support for the convening of a conference on the important issue of marine biodiversity in zones beyond national jurisdiction, he underlined the need to take account of the conservation and sustainable use of such resources.  In 1970, the Assembly had declared zones beyond national jurisdiction to be the common heritage of all mankind.  Noting that 2017 marked the twentieth anniversary of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, he expressed concern about that body’s inadequate service conditions, including its staff’s lack of medical coverage.  Stressing that all negotiations related to the Law of the Sea should continue to be adopted by consensus, he expressed concern over statements made by some parties seeking to legitimize regional fisheries management mechanisms whose activities went beyond their scope and orbit, or which assumed authority over vessels flying the flags of countries that were not parties to those organizations.  He voiced further concern over attempts to legitimize the actions by some groups of States, which were trying to establish regulations over marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, even before a legal instrument on those matters had been developed.

CARMELO INGUANEZ (Malta) recalled that 50 years ago, his country’s then permanent representative, Arvid Pardo had stated that the seabed, ocean floor and sub-soil were “the common heritage of mankind” and should be used for peaceful purposes and for the exclusive benefit of humanity.  That stance earned Mr. Pardo the title of “Father of the Modern Law of the Sea”.  On 15 December, Malta would host an international symposium to discuss global ocean governance, he continued, adding his support for the establishment of an intergovernmental panel on ocean governance to address the current fragmented state of affairs still governing the ocean, despite the very valuable and indispensable work being undertaken by the United Nations.

WU HAITAO (China) said that his country’s Belt and Road Initiative, in particular the building of the twenty-first century Maritime Silk Road, would strongly boost international cooperation in ocean affairs under the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and benefit sharing.  Those efforts would strike a balance between protection and sustainable use of the oceans, while promoting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  The proposed draft agreement on marine biological diversity neither covered all items nor represented consensus and would have, as such, no effect on future positions of parties.  Regulations addressing the exploitation of mineral resources in the Area must be commensurate with the current level of human activities in and knowledge of the Area.