11 September 2008
General Assembly
GA/10740

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-second General Assembly

Plenary

121st Meeting (AM)


GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS WIDE-RANGING RESOLUTION SUPPORTING STEPS


TO PROMOTE PEACE, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA

 


Also Adopts Texts on Transparency in Industries, Disarmament Special Session,

Peacekeeping Operations Special Committee, Palestinian Rights Committee Membership


Meeting to take action on several outstanding items on the agenda of its sixty-second session, the General Assembly this morning adopted one decision and three resolutions, including a wide-ranging text supporting the Secretary-General’s recommendations on promoting peace and sustainable development in Africa.


The Assembly also approved Nicaragua’s request to become a member of the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.  That delegation had already held observer status in the Committee, and, according to an annex to the letter containing its request (document A/62/951), Nicaragua’s desire to become a full member reflected it’s “history of upholding the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and the particular interest of [the country’s] Government of Reconciliation and Unity”.


Adopting without a vote the resolution on implementing the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s 1998 report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (document A/62/L.47), the Assembly took note of the recent progress report (A/63/212) and reaffirmed the need to strengthen synergies between Africa’s economic and social development programmes and the continent’s peace and security agenda.


That text noted that, despite positive trends and advances in obtaining durable peace in Africa, the conditions required for sustainable development had yet to be consolidated throughout the continent, and that “there is therefore an urgent need to develop African human and institutional capacities, particularly in countries emerging from conflict”.


Recognizing that global and regional conflict prevention and peace consolidation efforts for Africa should be channelled towards the sustainable development of institutional capacity-building, the resolution called for a holistic and coordinated approach to improve the effectiveness of mechanisms for, among others, crisis management, and post-conflict peacebuilding.  It also reaffirmed the need for observing such an approach in designing and implementing programmes within the context of Africa’s 10-year capacity-building programme.


By other terms of the 31-paragraph text, the Assembly stressed the importance of effectively addressing issues that continued to hamper durable peace and development in Africa, including ongoing challenges such as the spread of HIV/AIDS, exploitation of natural resources and trafficking of illicit small arms, as well as emerging trends such as massive population displacements, climate change and increasing activity of organized criminal networks.  It also encouraged African Governments to continue their efforts to spur development, including by, among others, establishing appropriate structures and policies to attract foreign investors.


The Assembly also adopted without a vote a resolution on strengthening transparency in industries (document A/62/L.41/Rev.1), emphasizing that “transparency and accountability are objectives that should be embraced and promoted by all Member States, regardless of their size, level of development or resource endowment”.  It encouraged the international community to help strengthen the capacity-building of States endowed with natural resources, especially post-conflict countries, “to negotiate mutually satisfactory, transparent and equitable contractual terms for the use, extraction and processing of [those] resources”.


Taking note of all relevant voluntary initiatives, including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), aimed at improving transparency in those industries, the Assembly encouraged businesses, especially transnational corporations, to establish global corporate policies on sustainable development; make environmentally sound technologies available to affiliates owned by their parent company in developing countries without extra external charges; and to modify procedures to reflect local ecological conditions and share experiences with local authorities, national Governments and international organizations.


The text also urged the private sector, including corporations engaged in the extractive industries, to ensure transparency and verifiable processes, while adhering to and promoting the principles of honesty, transparency and accountability in order to maximize the contribution of the private sector to the realization of social and people-centred sustainable development.


Speaking before adoption on the resolution, representatives of Venezuela, China and the Russian Federation pointed out technical discrepancies between the English and Spanish language versions that they felt did not reflect the consensus that had been reached during negotiations.  All delegations noted several translation errors, including the title of the text.


Speaking after adoption, Robert S. Hagen ( United States) said that his delegation was pleased that the text took note of voluntary initiatives such as EITI in strengthening transparency and accountability in extractive industries.   Azerbaijan was one of the pioneers in implementing that Initiative, and the United States encouraged other emerging economies and their industries to support that scheme.


Regarding the references in the text to “full and permanent sovereignty over wealth, natural resources and economic activities”, and to “General Assembly resolution 1803 of 1962”, the United States would emphasize that State sovereignty was qualified by rules of international law, including those on expropriation of property.  For example, no State may expropriate or nationalize foreign investments, either directly or indirectly, except when four conditions were met:  expropriation must be for a public purpose; non-discriminatory; accompanied by prompt, adequate and effective compensation; and carried in accordance with due process of law.


Next, Lorena Giménez-Jiménez ( Venezuela) said that, while her delegation joined consensus on the resolution, it would underscore its concern at the increasing trend in intergovernmental bodies and negotiations to “push non-intergovernmental initiatives, such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative”.  EITI was a voluntary initiative agreed outside intergovernmental processes, and should always be recognized as such. 


All industries should strive for transparency and accountability and their activities, extractive or otherwise, should aim to ensure the well-being of the societies in which they operated and fully in step with domestic legislation.  She said that promoting transparency and accountability should not come to mean the establishment of monitoring measures that superseded those established by States, nor should they in any way undermine national sovereignty.  Transnational corporations must comply with domestic legislation and should take into account domestic sustainable development strategies and initiatives, she added.


In other business, the Assembly adopted a resolution contained in the report of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) (document A/62/406/Add.1) on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.  The text welcomed the annual report of its Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, and urged all Member States, the Secretariat and relevant United Nations organs to implement the proposals, recommendations and conclusions included therein.


Finally, the Assembly adopted a procedural decision to continue the work of its open-ended working group considering the objectives and agenda, including the possible establishment of a preparatory committee, for the proposed fourth special session of the Assembly devoted to disarmament.  That group, who’s Chairperson had been unavailable during the Assembly’s sixty-second session, had been unable to meet this past year. 


The representative of Azerbaijan introduced the text on strengthening industry transparency; and the representative of Antigua and Barbuda introduced the text on durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.  The representative of Indonesia, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, introduced the decision on the fourth special session of the Assembly devoted to disarmament.   Nicaragua’s representative thanked the Assembly for approving its request to become a full member of the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.


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


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For information media • not an official record