09/12/2003
Press Release
GA/EF/3068



Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Committee

36th Meeting (PM)


SECOND COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS PROCLAMATION OF INTERNATIONAL DECADE


ON ‘WATER FOR LIFE’, 2005-2015


Texts Also Approved on Palestinian Sovereignty over Natural

Resources, Coercive Economic Measures, UN-HABITAT, UNEP, Science for Development


The General Assembly would proclaim the period from 2005 to 2015 as the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”, beginning on World Water Day, 22 March 2005, according to one of seven draft texts approved by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this afternoon.


Further to that draft resolution, the Assembly would decide that the Decade’s goal would be a greater focus on water-related issues, while striving to ensure the participation of women in water-related development efforts, and further cooperation at all levels to achieve water-related goals of the Millennium Declaration, Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of the World Summit for Sustainable Development and Agenda 21.


Another draft approved by the Committee today concerned the 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.  By that text, the Assembly would call on Israel not to exploit, cause loss, deplete or endanger the natural resources in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian Golan territories.


Also by that text, the Assembly would recognize the Palestinian right to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, loss, depletion or danger to their natural resources.  The Committee approved that text in a recorded action of 142 votes in favour to four against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with nine abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nauru, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda and Tuvalu).  (See Annex II for voting details.)


By the terms of another draft resolution approved by the Committee, on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries, the Assembly would urge the international community to eliminate unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries, which are unauthorized by the United Nations and contravene the basic principles of the multilateral trading system. 


That text was approved in a recorded action of 105 votes in favour to two against (Georgia, United States), with 43 abstentions.  (See Annex I for voting details.)


By a draft resolution approved on the Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its twenty-second session, the Assembly would emphasize the need for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to further contribute to sustainable development programmes, the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.  It would also call on UNEP to contribute to preparations for next year’s international meeting in Mauritius to review implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.


A draft resolution approved concerning the United Nations System Staff College in Turin (Italy) would have the Assembly encourage the College to provide strategic leadership to increase operational effectiveness, promote inter-agency collaboration and strengthen management culture.  It would also invite the international community to strengthen its support through voluntary contributions.


According to another draft approved by the Committee, on the rules of procedure of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the Assembly would adopt the rules of procedure of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), as annexed to Governing Council resolution 19/1 of 9 May 2003.


The Committee also approved a draft decision on science and technology for development, which would have the Assembly take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the impact of new biotechnologies on sustainable development, including food security, health and economic productivity, and request that it be circulated at the 2004 Global Biotechnology Forum, to be held in Chile.


During recorded actions on drafts, the representative of Morocco made a statement before the vote, while the representatives of the United States, Italy (on behalf of the European Union), Ethiopia, and Ukraine made explanations of vote after the vote.


Statements were also made by the representatives of Sweden and Argentina, and by Committee Vice-Chairman Irena Zubcevic (Croatia).


The Committee will meet again on Wednesday, 10 December at 3:00 p.m. to take action on its remaining drafts.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this afternoon to take action on 10 draft resolutions and one draft decision relating to various agenda items.


Draft Resolutions


Before the Committee was a draft on the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”, 2005-2015 (document A/C.2/58/L.8), by which the Assembly would decide that the Decade’s goal would be to step up focus on water-related issues, promoting women managers and international cooperation among all stakeholders to achieve the water-related goals of the Millennium Declaration, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted at the World Summit for Sustainable Development and Agenda 21.


Further by that draft, the Assembly would invite the Commission on Sustainable Development to identify potential programmes in connection with the Decade.  It would also call upon United Nations bodies, specialized agencies and regional commissions to coordinate a response to make it a “decade for action.”


Also before the Committee was a draft resolution on the Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its twenty-second session (A/C.2/58/L.12), which would have the Assembly emphasize the need for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to further contribute to sustainable development programmes, the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.


By other terms, the Assembly would call on UNEP to contribute to preparations of the twelfth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development and for the international meeting in Mauritius next year to review implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.  Also by the draft, the Assembly would reiterate the need for stable, adequate and predictable financial resources for UNEP, and would underline the need to consider the adequate reflection of all administrative and management costs in the context of the United Nations regular budget.


The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on the Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its twenty-second session (A/C.2/58/L.48), submitted by the Committee Vice-Chairman.


Another draft before the Committee, on the United Nations System Staff College in Turin, Italy (A/C.2/58/L.21), would have the Assembly call on all United Nations bodies to make full and effective use of the Staff College’s facilities.  Also by that text, it would invite the Staff College to focus on activities that maximize system-wide coherence and effectiveness in supporting the coordinated and integrated follow-up to conferences, and improving service delivery to Member States.


By other terms, the Assembly would encourage the College to provide strategic leadership to increase operational effectiveness, promote inter-agency collaboration and strengthen management culture by its own example.  Also by the text, the Assembly would welcome Member States’ financial and other support for the Staff College, and invite the international community to strengthen its support through voluntary contributions.


Also before the Committee was a draft, submitted by the Committee Vice-Chairman, on the United Nations System Staff College in Turin, Italy (A/C.2/58/L.47).


Another text before the Committee was on Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (A/C.2/58/L.33), which would have the Assembly urge the international community to eliminate unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries that are not authorized by the United Nations, and which contravene the basic principles of the multilateral trading system.  By other terms, it would request the Secretary-General to monitor such measures and study their impact on affected countries, including on trade and development.


The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on the Rules of procedure of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).  By that text (A/C.2/58/L.35), the General Assembly would adopt the rules of procedure of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat, as annexed to Governing Council resolution 19/1 of 9 May 2003.


Also before the Committee was a draft resolution on the Rules of procedure of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), also submitted by the Committee Vice-Chairman (A/C.2/58/L.46).


In addition, the Committee had before it a draft on the 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 (C.2/58/L.36/Rev.1).  By that text, the General Assembly would call on Israel not to exploit, cause loss, deplete or endanger the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.


Further by that text, the Assembly would recognize the Palestinian right to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, loss or depletion of, or danger to their natural resources, and express the hope that the issue would be dealt with in final status negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.


Draft Decision


The Committee also had before it a draft decision on Science and technology for development (document A/C.2/58/L.6), which would have the Assembly take note of the report of the Secretary-General on the impact of new biotechnologies on sustainable development, including food security, health and economic productivity, and request that it be circulated at the 2004 Global Biotechnology Forum to be held in Chile.


Action on Draft Resolutions and Decisions


The Committee first considered a draft resolution on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/C.2/58/L.33).


Statements before the Vote


Speaking before the vote, Morocco’s representative said he had submitted the draft on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China.


Action


By a recorded vote of 105 in favour, to two against (United States, Georgia), with 43 abstentions, the Committee approved the draft (see Annex I).


Explanations of Vote After the Vote


The representative of the United States said he voted against the draft because it challenged the prerogative of sovereign States to freely conduct their commercial relations.  The draft also aimed to undermine the international community’s ability to respond effectively to acts that –- by their very nature and enormity -– were offensive to international norms.  Unilateral and multilateral economic sanctions could be an effective means to achieve legitimate foreign policy objectives.


Italy’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union considered that unilateral economic measures should not be taken against any members of the international community.  He hoped the issue would be included in the agenda of the 60th session of the General Assembly.


Ethiopia’s representative said he would have voted in favour of the draft, had he been present for the vote.


Ukraine’s representative said he had abstained from voting and wished that to be put on the record.


Without a vote, the Committee then approved a draft decision on science and technology for development (document A/C.2/58/L.6).


The Vice-Chairman, IRENA ZUBCEVIC (Croatia), then introduced a draft she had submitted to the Committee on the Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its twenty-second session (document A.C.2/58/L.48), which the Committee approved without a vote.  It then withdrew a previous draft on the same topic (document A/C.2/58/L.12).


She then introduced a draft she had submitted on the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”, 2005-2015 (document A/C.2/58/L.49), which the Committee approved without a vote, as orally amended.  Again, it withdrew a previous draft on the same topic (document A/C.2/58/L.8).


Next, Sweden’s representative introduced the Vice-Chairman’s draft on the United Nations System Staff College in Turin, Italy (document A/C.2/58/L.47), which the Committee approved without a vote.  It then withdrew a previous draft on the same topic (document A/C.2/58/L.21).


The Vice-Chairman then introduced a draft on the rules of procedure of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) (document A/C.2/58/L.46), which the Committee approved without a vote.  It withdrew a previous draft on the same topic (document A/C.2/58/L.35).


Addressing that draft resolution, Argentina’s representative said it was understood that Habitat’s Secretariat and Governing Council needed to adapt to the provisions of General Assembly Resolution 2065 concerning the Malvinas Islands.  The parties to the dispute should also be consulted on the draft just adopted, regarding any action by the Governing Council related to the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands.  He requested that his statement be included in the session’s verbatim report.


By a recorded vote of 142 in favour, to four against (Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, the Marshall Islands, and the United States), with nine abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nauru, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda and Tuvalu), the Committee approved a draft resolution on the 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 C.2/58/L.36/Rev.1).


Explanation of Vote after the Vote


In explaining his country’s vote in favour of the draft, the representative of Japan said the natural resources of any area should not be used illegally by the occupying Power.  The September bombing of Haifa, Israel’s continued occupation of the Palestinian territory and its air strikes in the Gaza Strip were proof that the situation had worsened.  He expressed deep concern over Israel’s construction of a separation wall, saying it would not bode well for peace and negotiations for a peaceful solution to the conflict.  He urged Israel to practice restraint and the Palestinian authority to crack down on extremists.


Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Italy noted that his country had voted in favour of the draft and said the natural resources of any territory seized by armed force should not be used illegally.  He affirmed the right of national sovereignty and self-determination as set forth in the    1949 Geneva Convention.  The issues referred to in the resolution should be dealt with in a permanent framework of the status of the Middle East, he said, adding that the resolution should not be considered prejudicial to the outcome.


ANNEX I


Vote on Unilateral Economic Measures


The draft resolution on unilateral economic measures as a means of coercion (document A/C.2/58/L.33) was approved by a recorded vote of 105 in favour to 2 against, with 43 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Against:  Georgia, United States.


Abstain:  Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom.


Absent:  Afghanistan, Albania, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Nauru, Nigeria, Palau, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Swaziland, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.


ANNEX II


Vote on Permanent Sovereignty of Palestinian People


The draft resolution on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people (document A/C.2/58/L.36/Rev.1) was adopted by a recorded vote of 142 in favour to   4 against, with 9 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Against:  Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.


Abstain:  Australia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nauru, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Tuvalu.


Absent:  Afghanistan, Albania, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Iraq, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria, Palau, Republic of Moldova, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Swaziland, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.


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