The establishment of the Headquarters of the United Nations Standby Forces High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG) had not been mandated by the Organization and it was, therefore, not a United Nations initiative, the representative of Pakistan told the General Assembly this afternoon, as it concluded its consideration of the Secretary-General's report on the work of the Organization.
He said the Secretary-General's report gave the impression that the establishment of SHIRBRIG in Copenhagen, Denmark was a United Nations initiative. He wanted to clarify for the record that it was not. If SHIRBRIG had to be created, it should be by the United Nations and all Member States should be asked to contribute towards that force.
The representative of Cuba said strengthening the rapid response capability of the United Nations in the maintenance of peace and security could not be the exclusive responsibility of the Security Council. Peace was still precarious in many parts of the world. However, the United Nations should not apply any one model solution to conflict, because every situation was different and required its own analysis and solution.
The representative of Sweden, speaking also on behalf of the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, said the challenges to peacekeeping differed from those of the past. The early-action capacity needed to be enhanced and peacekeeping financing secured on a collective basis. There must also be a stronger linkage between the political, military and humanitarian responses to crisis situations.
A number of speakers also addressed what they considered to be shortcomings in the Secretary-General's Report. The representative of the Czech Republic said that it did not properly reflect the interpretation of the concept of sustainable development. While the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) had explicitly stated that sustainable
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development was a balance of economic, social and environmental goals, the report did not reflect that interpretation. While agreeing that the concept had been largely inspired by environmental concerns, he hoped that future reports would treat the environment and sustainable development in a more balanced way.
In other action this afternoon, the Assembly adopted without a vote a resolution on emergency assistance to Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Saint Kitts and Nevis, which was introduced by Indonesia, on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China. By the terms of the resolution, the Assembly urged all States to contribute generously to the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the affected countries and to provide financing for the national and regional relief efforts undertaken by the affected countries with their own and pooled human resources.
Statements on the Secretary-General's Report were also made by the representatives of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Philippines, Egypt, Belgium, Japan, New Zealand, Sudan, Iran, Uruguay and Italy.
Statements before adoption of the resolution were made by the representatives of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, Guyana, on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the Russian Federation. The representative of Antigua and Barbuda spoke after adoption of the text.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 6 October, to hear an address by the President of Botswana. It was also expected to begin its comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue its consideration of the Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization (document A/53/1). The report covers, among other things, matters relating to: peace and security; development cooperation; globalization; the international legal system; humanitarian activities; and efforts of the Organization to more coherently and forcefully communicate with its global audience. For more details see Press Release GA/9465 issued today.
The Assembly was also expected to take action on a draft resolution entitled "Emergency assistance to Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Saint Kitts and Nevis" (document A/53/L.2 Rev.1). By the terms of the draft, the Assembly, would urge all States, as a matter of urgency, to contribute generously to the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the affected countries and to provide financing for the national and regional relief efforts undertaken by the affected countries with their own and pooled human resources. For more details see Press Release GA/9465 issued today.
Before giving the floor to the first speaker, Semakula Kiwanuka (Uganda), Vice-President of the General Assembly informed delegations that the representative of Peru had requested to participate in the debate on the Secretary-General's report on the work of the Organization.
MOSES M. DLAMINI (Swaziland), said that in cases such as this the rules of procedure of the General Assembly should be invoked.
Peru was then included on the list of speakers.
NASTE CALOVSKI (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said that the main task of the Assembly was to define a twenty-first century vision of international relations and reduce the uncertainties with which nations were grappling. To achieve better political, economic and social cooperation, as well as strengthen international law, a coordinated response throughout the Organization was required.
The Assembly's priorities should be the prevention of world conflicts, the resolution of current conflicts and the enhancement of world economic cooperation, he said. In dealing with global economic difficulties, the small and weak economies of many developing countries and transition economies must be taken into account. As an example of successful conflict prevention, he cited the United Nation's Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP), which had been stationed at the northern and western borders or his country since 1992.
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At present, regional stability depended on developments in Kosovo and Metohija, for which a political solution was necessary.
He said the proposed Millennium Assembly should reflect: the Organization's Charter; the relevance of the Assembly and the Council; the enhancement of a multilateral culture; the development of economies; and, the observance of international law. In sum, a more relevant Organization was needed. To achieve that, priority should be given to strengthening the relevance of the Assembly in world affairs by adopting a new, more effective and democratic arrangement for their participation. That arrangement would enable all member States, large or small, to participate and contribute to the activities of the Assembly.
The priorities of the Secretary General's report were shared by his delegation, he said. It was time to consider the implementation of disarmament and international instruments to fight against terrorism. Production, trade and illegal trafficking of conventional arms were increasing, which signalled an unhealthy development in the maintenance of international peace and security. Increased transparency and regional cooperation arrangements should be supported.
BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba), said the Secretary-General's Report was comprehensive, imaginative and informative. He agreed with the Secretary-General when he said that more than a decade after the cold war, the contours of the new era remained poorly understood. The rich were ever richer and the poor were ever poorer. The world expected changes in the United Nations system that were not limited to updating existing structures. Democratization was facing a serious challenge regarding the relationships among principal organs of the Organization.
Peace was still precarious in many parts of the world, he continued. The United Nations should not apply any one model solution to conflict, because every situation was different and required its own analysis and solution. The United Nations also had the primary role in post-conflict peace-building. However, strengthening the rapid response capability of the United Nations in the maintenance of peace and security could not be the exclusive responsibility of the Security Council.
His Government supported the Non-Aligned Movement's call for an international conference, preferably in 1999, for securing an agreement before the end of the millennium on a phased programme of disarmament within a fixed time-frame, he said. He also supported the Secretary-General's view that it was increasingly difficult to fulfil commitments on social development, especially in poor countries. The decline in official development assistance (ODA) and contributions by traditional donors affected the fulfilment of those commitments.
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The proposal for results-based budgeting could not ignore the significant changes that that proposal would involve, he said. The Assembly had to undertake an in-depth and comprehensive study before that proposal was put into effect. Also, the primary contributor to the Organization must pay its dues in full without conditions. His Government had managed, despite the economic situation brought on by an embargo, to reduce its debt. The United Nations had to prevent international law from being held hostage to the hegemonic and national interests of certain countries and curb the tendency of some States to impose unilateral coercive measures on other States.
HENRIK SALANDER (Sweden), on behalf of the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, said the Nordic countries continued to provide the Organizations's system with extensive voluntary contributions for development cooperation and with substantial human and financial resources for peacekeeping operations. Today, the challenges to that process differed from those of the past. There must be a stronger linkage between the political, military and humanitarian responses to crisis situations. The early-action capacity needed to be enhanced and peacekeeping financing secured on a collective basis. The Nordic countries would continue to contribute to that ongoing process.
He said there was also a strong need to focus on conflict prevention. A variety of complementary activities within a strategic framework should be envisaged, ranging from dealing with the root causes of a conflict to preventive deployment of a United Nations presence. Regional efforts, such as by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), were essential and should continue to be encouraged. The current year would be remembered for the discouraging developments in the nuclear field. "We cannot but continue to urge the countries concerned to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) without delay and without restrictions", he said.
He said a budgeting system that would focus on the actual achievements of mandates and programmes would contribute to greater efficiency, effectiveness, relevance and impact of the work of the Organization. He stressed that "this is not about cutting costs", but about "using the funds where they will contribute most". Addressing globalization, he said that it was the role of the international community to ensure that "we benefit from the opportunities of globalization, while minimizing the risks it poses". Multilateralism should flourish in a globalized world.
MARIA LOURDES RAMIRO LOPEZ (Philippines) said that the Secretary-General's report reflected the increasingly multifaceted tasks entrusted to the Organization at a time of decreasing resources. Her delegation expressed concern over the need to provide the Organization with timely and adequate resources if it was to be effective in addressing global
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issues. She appealed to Member States in arrears to pay their assessed dues in full and without further delay.
Strengthening the Organization's role in promoting international cooperation for development should be the primary objective of any further reform effort, she continued. The Secretary-General's proposals for long-term changes in that regard should be considered by the Assembly in an open and transparent manner. The participation of all Member States would be necessary to reach consensus on the subject. The Organization could play a significant role in fostering international cooperation and in mitigating the negative effects of globalization. Further, the weakness of the current global financial system called for decisive action by the international community.
In the area of international peace and security, she said a common understanding on what constituted preventive action was needed. Her Government supported the call of the Non-Aligned Movement to resume talks on the concept of preventive diplomacy and action. Details of the criteria used for classifying a "threat to international peace and security" and actions to be undertaken by the Organization, would be helpful. She also called for details to be made available concerning the "early warning of situations with potential for crisis" and "an integrated preventive strategy". Greater transparency in those activities was necessary.
NABIL A. ELARABY (Egypt) said the report of the Secretary-General required careful study and active follow-up on the part of the international community. In order to successfully evaluate the experiences of the past, the evaluation process must begin before the end of the century and not wait for the Millennium Assembly. His Government intended to initiate informal consultations, with the hope of creating a special commission to evaluate the lessons of the past and formulate recommendations for the future. He also supported and encouraged the examination and evaluation of all the articles of the Charter, in order to see if they had been implemented or used.
ANDRE ADAM (Belgium) said the Secretary-General's Report made it possible to judge the role of the Organization in light of the changes taking place in the world. The most important message of the Report was that the new world environment demanded the in-depth adaptation of the United Nations and an analysis of the central role it had to play. His Government continued to support the Secretary-General in his effort to transform the Organization into a simpler and more focused body to accomplish its mission with maximum efficiency. Many of the other points involving initiatives to transform the Organization also merited support.
The United Nations needed to have a better view of the global role it would play, to better guarantee progress in the observation of human rights and international law, he said. Three other aspects also deserved emphasis. First, the new world environment required more systematic cooperation among
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States, the United Nations and other actors. Belgium encouraged the Secretary-General and the Assembly to strengthen dialogue between the Organization and the Bretton Woods institutions. Second, concerning the grave financial situation of the United Nations, he believed that States in arrears were doing damage to the international community as a whole. The total and unconditional payment of assessments on time was needed. Finally, regarding Security Council reform, he said unproductive confrontations should be avoided.
YUKIO TAKASU (Japan) said that it was important to transform the United Nations into a truly effective organization for the twenty-first century. To implement that goal, it was necessary to simultaneously promote three avenues of endeavour: peace; development; and reform of the Organization. The three main directions of reform should be in the areas of politics, development and financing. Reform of the Security Council should also be pushed forward. He also welcomed the Secretary-General's strategy to create a culture of communications to enhance the links among the United Nations, the media and civil society. He hoped that the Department of Public Information would play a leading role in the implementation of such a strategy.
The importance of arms control and disarmament could not be overemphasized, he continued. It was important that nuclear-weapon States make sincere efforts towards nuclear disarmament. Regarding development, he said it was necessary to deal not only with economic development problems, but also with the social aspects of development, such as the issues of human rights and good governance. Also, for the United Nations to be truly effective, it needed to improve the plight of Africa. His Government, for its part, had been promoting a new development strategy for Africa, and it would host the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development later this month.
MICHAEL POWLES (New Zealand) said that the Organization's "quiet revolution" of revitalizing its machinery had already achieved some far-reaching and beneficial effects in a very short period of time. Institutional changes, including the establishment of a Senior Management Group, executive committees and the appointment of a Deputy Secretary-General, had brought about greater coherence in policy, planning and direction. The development of productive relations with the Bretton Woods institutions had also been a major step forward.
He said the Secretary-General's Report should remind the Assembly of three important reform measures that were its responsibility: time-limits on new mandates; the Development Account; and results-based budgeting. The adoption of the latter was of utmost importance to increasing accountability and efficiency in the Organization. His Government would also study with great interest the possibility of strengthening linkages between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.
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In sum, the Secretary-General's comments on globalization foreshadowed what had become the dominant theme of the general debate over the past two weeks, he added. The Report was a reminder of the stark figures behind the turbulence in financial markets, particularly in Asia. The Report noted that 50 million people in Indonesia alone could be thrown back into poverty. That was a human tragedy in anyone's terms. The new dimensions of globalization could only be addressed multilaterally.
VLADIMIR GALUSKA (Czech Republic) said that creating a new model for the United Nations, capable of dealing efficiently with present and future requirements, would not be easy. As the year 2000 approaches, the international community should use the remaining time to conceive of a new United Nations. He welcomed the Secretary-General's proposals for meeting forthcoming challenges through such mechanisms as "global town meetings". Such meetings would be beneficial if they were focused, dealt with relevant topics and were attended by appropriate United Nations officials.
Institutional reform should be expeditiously finalized, he continued. The Organization should take action on the Secretary-General's proposals, particularly on specific time-limits for new mandates, the results-based budgeting system and the development account. Reform efforts had started to bear fruit. He welcomed the suggestion to extend the Security Council's role to economic, social and development areas, through closer cooperation with the Economic and Social Council.
The principles for disarmament must also be strengthened and consolidated. He supported the idea of a United Nations conference on the illicit arms trade and in seeking ways to monitor and control their transfer and link with the trafficking in other contraband goods. His Government also noted the progress achieved in the Organization's peacekeeping standby arrangement system and the new promising concept of "smart sanctions".
The Secretary-General's Report, however, fell short in properly reflecting the interpretation of the concept of sustainable development. While the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro explicitly stated that sustainable development was a balance of economic, social and environmental goals, the Report did not portray that interpretation. In the second chapter, for example, sustainable development was contained as a single item under the title "cooperating for development", instead of making it a core concept of the whole development cooperation process. Moreover, activities in that area were far too selective, giving only random examples. By contrast, sustainable development appeared in much greater complexity in the fourth chapter, under the title of "the environmental dimension". Acknowledging that the concept had been largely inspired by environmental concerns, still, he hoped that future reports would treat the environment and sustainable development in a more balanced way.
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ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) said his country fully supported the Secretary-General's efforts to strengthen the Organization. His report on the work of the Organization had also underscored the challenges facing humanity. The world today was witnessing a trend whereby some claimed the right to change the law as they saw fit, for their own selfish interests. He cited the recent missile attack by the United States in Sudan as one such example. One of the Organization's missions was to prevent war and attacks against people by reaffirming the primacy of law, he added.
He hoped the discussions today would help the Secretary-General in his efforts to strengthen the United Nations at the dawn of the new millennium. The holding of the proposed Millennium Assembly would be a milestone in elaborating the world's future. He hoped it would also help attain practical goals that would serve the whole of humanity. While diplomacy played a major role in seeking to prevent and contain conflict, its precondition for success was the consent given by all concerned. Addressing sanctions, he said if they were necessary they should not be issued as the instruments of narrow interests and political agendas. They should also have well-defined goals and be governed by a timetable with regard to implementation, enforcement and duration.
Regarding human rights, he said one blueprint had not been implemented -- the right of people to development. That was a right like any other human right.
KHALID AZIZ BABAR (Pakistan) said India's refusal to allow the Kashmiri people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, was the root cause of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, which had engendered conflict and tensions between India and Pakistan for the past 50 years. His Government, therefore, hoped that the Secretary-General would continue efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the dispute and would reflect the outcome in detail in his next report. His Government would also make every effort to find a negotiated solution for the problem through the Foreign Secretary-level talks, which were likely to resume by the end of the month.
He said his country had proposed measures both bilaterally and in the relevant multilateral forums to keep South Asia free of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, India had rejected all such initiatives. Pakistan had also explained the rationale behind its own nuclear tests on several occasions in the past -- "they were designed to prevent the threat or use of force against Pakistan".
His country was a beneficiary of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which continued to play an important role in maintaining peace and security in South Asia. His Government hoped the Secretary-General would agree to the strengthening of that operation to
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enable it to carry out its mandated tasks more effectively. However, on 27 September, India's Army fired upon an UNMOGIP vehicle across the line of control in Azad, Kashmir. He was gravely concerned at that incident, which was ostensibly aimed at preventing UNMOGIP personnel from carrying out their peacekeeping work.
He said the Secretary-General's Report gave the impression that the establishment of the headquarters of the United Nations Standby Forces High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG), in Copenhagen was a United Nations initiative. He wanted to clarify for the record that SHIRBRIG had not been mandated by the Organization and it was, therefore, not a United Nations initiative. If SHIRBRIG had to be created, it should be by the United Nations, and all Member States should be asked to contribute towards that force.
SEYYED MOHAMMED HADI NEJAD-HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said that marginalization and exclusion for many developing societies was not a distant possibility, but a very bleak tomorrow. The situation called for a global partnership and strengthened international economic cooperation. Instead, the recourse to unilateral coercive economic measures had been on the rise, as well as the enactment of domestic laws with extra-territorial effects. Such measures constituted a major barrier to free trade and contradicted basic principles of international law and the goals of the World Trade Organization.
Declining ODA was also a source of concern, he continued. The United Nations as a whole, as well as its programmes and funds, had gone through structural reforms to increase their efficiency and effectiveness. However, that process had not been commensurate with the necessary increase in contributions.
The issue of refugees also needed special attention, he said. Iran was hosting more than 2 million refugees from neighbouring countries, especially Afghanistan. The efforts made by developing host countries to face the challenges resulting from the influx of refugees should be supplemented by international assistance. An inter-agency coordination mechanism was necessary to ensure sufficient assistance to developing host countries and also for providing necessary and essential services for refugees.
JULIO BENITEZ SAENZ (Uruguay) said the Secretary-General's report represented a candid and lucid catalogue of the system's main activities. Of particular interest were the efforts highlighted in the area of conflict prevention. Preventive warning systems, strategies and resources to put those strategies into effect were needed for effective conflict prevention. Issues of economic and humanitarian crises, which were threats to international peace and security, had to be addressed further. Also, the reduction of poverty needed to become a priority issue.
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He said the report stressed that human rights problems should not be addressed in isolation from other United Nations activities. There should be a common thread binding them. It was also worth noting that 1998, the year of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, had also seen the adoption in Rome of the Statute for the International Criminal Court. The hope was that it would, as the Secretary-General said, do away with the culture of impunity.
The United Nations should act with firm resolve concerning issues such as terrorism and drug trafficking, he said. He also agreed that nuclear disarmament should be placed as the top priority and the world was facing a critical moment in the effort to reduce nuclear weapons. He was also concerned that the total resources and personnel devoted to peacekeeping had dropped since the early 1990s. He shared the Secretary-General's concern that development continued to be a tremendous challenge in a world where many were forced to survive on $1 a day.
In conclusion, despite the financial constraints it faced, the United Nations had achieved tangible humanitarian achievements, he said. The challenge today was not to reverse or resist the impact of globalization, but to take advantage of its positive effects and deal with its negative effects.
PIER BENEDETTO FRANCESE (Italy) said that Italy had tough laws restricting arms export, import and trafficking. It also had a strong record in the field of non-proliferation of conventional arms. It was necessary to draft new, clearer and more effective international regulations on those issues. The approval of a European Union "evolving" Code of Conduct that would provide for an annual comparison and update of policies in the area of arms exports was a positive step. His Government had been particularly active in supporting that initiative.
He said his Government was also committed to defining a more precise, effective international frame of reference on arms transfers and the detection and prevention of the destabilizing stockpiling of weapons. In 1999, the review process of the Initial Elements of the Wassenaar Arrangement would start, and he expected it would contribute to the establishment of an international agenda on small arms and light weapons.
Speaking about peacekeeping operations, he said he supported the efforts to promote stand-by arrangements. He also favoured possible creation within the United Nations of a support group to study the issues of response to crises and intervention in crisis situations, within the framework of regional arrangements. With regard to sanctions, he shared the Secretary-General's emphasis on a more humane and efficient sanctions regime.
In the area of development cooperation, he welcomed the implementation of the reform proposals aimed at fostering greater internal coordination,
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streamlining and rationalizing the activities of the Organization. He also welcomed the Secretary-General's reference to the dormant provision of Article 65 of the Charter, regarding the relationship between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. That Article could provide a more effective tool for meeting the challenges of globalization. As President of the Council next year, his country would focus its efforts on renewing that body's role of coordination at the hub of the United Nations activities in the socio-economic sector.
Action on Draft
MOCHAMAD SLAMET HIDAYAT (Indonesia) introduced the draft resolution on emergency assistance to Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Saint Kitts and Nevis (document A/53/L.2/Rev.1), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China and the following additional co-sponsors: Austria (on behalf of the European Union); Canada; Croatia; Cyprus; Federated States of Micronesia; Greece; Mexico; Monaco; Netherlands; New Zealand; Slovakia and Ukraine.
He said that preliminary figures regarding the damage inflicted by Hurricane Georges rested at more than $200 million for Antigua and Barbuda and more than $400 million for Saint Kitts and Nevis, with the destruction of more than 50 per cent of that country's agricultural sector. The estimate of damage was for $1.6 billion in the Dominican Republic and $1.2 billion in Haiti. In Cuba, the majority of damage was sustained by the agricultural sector, and in the United States, the estimates had reached more than $500 million. The hurricane had also taken approximately 500 lives. Past experience with such disasters had demonstrated that quick response was needed.
HANS PETER MANZ (Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the Union deeply deplored the loss of life and destruction caused by the hurricane in the affected countries in the region. The Union recognized that the long-term effects of the disaster would require assistance from the international community.
PAULETTE CORNETTE (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that she welcomed the unanimous adoption of the draft resolution. Hurricane Georges had demonstrated once again the vulnerability of small developing States, the fragility of their ecosystems and economies and the need for special consideration of their condition. Her Government pledged its full support for the recent hurricane victims. She also called for renewed solidarity in support of the long-term sustainability of those States, in preparation for the review in 1999 of the Barbados Programme of Action on Small Island Developing States.
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NIKOLAI TCHOULKOV (Russian Federation) said that his country wanted to join the list of co-sponsors of the draft. He attached great importance to the strengthening of coordination in the area of humanitarian and emergency assistance and expressed solidarity with the people affected by Hurricane Georges. For the record, he also expressed solidarity with the resolution on the assistance to Bangladesh, which had been adopted earlier. For technical reasons, his country had been unable to co-sponsor that resolution at the time of its adoption. Today, Russia wanted to declare its support of that resolution.
The Assembly adopted the draft resolution.
Speaking after adoption of the resolution, PATRICK ALBERT LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda), on behalf of all the affected countries, expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming support the resolution received. The Assembly needed to think of the future and of the establishment of a fund for small developing island States, due to their vulnerabilities, he said. Those countries were in a precarious position and location.
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