3 November 2008
General Assembly
GA/10775

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

Sixty-third General Assembly

Plenary

36th & 37th Meetings (AM & PM)


GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONSIDERS 2008 REPORT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL, ADOPTS


TEXTS ON UNITED NATIONS COOPERATION WITH REGIONAL, OTHER ORGANIZATIONS


Adopts Resolution Implementing Smoking Ban at Headquarters;

Takes Up Secretary-General’s Report on Holocaust Outreach Programme


The General Assembly today adopted eight resolutions that spanned timely topics from population and development to greater cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations around the globe, as it also debated the latest report of the Economic and Social Council, and examined the three-year-old outreach programme on Holocaust remembrance.


Truly global in its scope, a text on cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization was adopted by a recorded vote of 64 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions (for voting details, see Annex).  By that resolution, the Assembly decided to place an item carrying the same title on the provisional agenda of its sixty-fifth session.  All other texts were adopted by consensus.


Five of the resolutions championed collaboration between the United Nations and regional and other entities in order to shape a more peaceful and stable world, including one which aimed to reinforce cooperation and synergies with the Council of Europe regarding, among others, peacebuilding, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the promotion of democracy and the rule of law.


More regional in their focus, other resolutions sought to foster tighter links between the United Nations and regional entities.  The United Nations’ economic work in Latin America received a boost with a document urging the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-ECLAC) to deepen mutually supportive activities within the System.


Two other resolutions sought to strengthen the Organization’s work with the Black Sea region, through the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, and with Eurasia, through the Eurasian Economic Community.  Zeroing in on legal issues, the sixth resolution on cooperation fostered closer ties between the Untied Nations and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization.


In a timely issue that recognized the harmful impact of second-hand smoke on the health of non-smokers, the Assembly also adopted a resolution to implement a complete ban on smoking at United Nations Headquarters indoor premises and on the sale of tobacco products.  It also recommended the implementation of a total ban on smoking at all United Nations indoors premises, including regional and country offices throughout the System, as well as banning the sales of tobacco products at all United Nations premises.


Finally, the Assembly recognized the Organization’s crucial work in population and development issues by resolving to set aside one day during next year’s sixty-fourth session to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development.


The Assembly also took up the Secretary-General’s report on the programme of outreach on the “Holocaust and the United Nations”.  Created three years ago with the Assembly’s adoption of its resolution 60/7, the programme had been carried out by the Department of Public Information and had strived to remember all Holocaust victims as it worked to prevent future acts of genocide.


In launching today’s joint debate, the President of the Economic and Social Council, Leo Merores of Haiti, presented the Council’s 2008 report and called the past year a transitional one for the 54-member body.  The 2008 Development Cooperation Forum, one of the Council’s new functions outlined in the 2005 World Summit outcome, had helped establish the Council as a principal forum for global dialogue and policy review in international development cooperation.  The Council’s role in peacebuilding and post-conflict development had received strong support from Member States.  Over the past year, the Council had forged new links with various stakeholders and held great potential for becoming a forum for collaborative action during current crises, he added.


Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the representative of Antigua and Barbuda said the Council’s progress in several economic and social areas was faltering.  Global challenges, such as climate change and the crises in food, finance and energy, needed to be dealt with in an integrated manner.  In considering today’s topic, he stressed the need for a strong, direct link between coordination and development while a priority was placed on monitoring results at the country level.


The representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, urged additional reform of the Council’s working methods.  The Council’s role in guiding and coordinating international responses to economic, social and environmental issues would benefit from greater coordination between the Council, the Organization’s funds and programmes, and the Assembly.


Turning to the issue of cooperation, the representative of Guyana spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and highlighted how many initiatives carried out by United Nations entities had helped the island region in areas from environment to food security to technical training.


Noting that security was the fourth pillar of Caribbean integration, CARICOM looked to the United Nations and its relevant specialized agencies, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), to support its efforts to strengthen its security arrangements and fulfil its international security commitments.  While pleased that UNODC had re-commenced its work in the Caribbean, he stressed the need to re-open a UNODC office in the region.  The Office on Drugs and Crime closed its bureau in Barbados last year.


Speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the delegate of Thailand viewed regional cooperation as a building block for the effective global multilateralism embodied in the United Nations.  To transform a region of more than 500 million people into an ASEAN Community by 2015, ASEAN leaders last year signed a landmark ASEAN Charter.  This would provide a legal and institutional framework to make the group a more rules-based, people-oriented and effective organization.  ASEAN Member States aimed to ratify the Charter in time for its entry-into-force at the fourteenth ASEAN Summit in Thailand in December.


While welcoming the growing cooperation between United Nations bodies and its specialized agencies, as well as with the African Union, the Egyptian delegate urged stronger cooperation on development issues.  That effort was especially needed as ongoing global crises impacted food and energy prices and wrecked havoc in the financial markets.  Climate change would most deeply impact Africa.


Cooperation between the Organization of the Islamic Conference and United Nations had helped correct an erroneous image of the Islamic world and promote peace.  The representative of Egypt backed an agreement between the United Nations and the Islamic Conference to strengthen institutional links between their secretariats.  Cooperation between the United Nations and League of Arab States was also important because of the United Nation’s leading role in seeking a settlement in the Middle East and providing humanitarian care for Palestinian refugees.


Speaking about the Organization’s Outreach Programme on the Holocaust, the representative of Israel said she hoped that the Programme would mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, and help prevent future acts of genocide.  She reminded the Assembly, especially in light of a Member State denying the Holocaust from the podium and calling for the destruction of another Member State that “the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers.  That is where it ended.  The Nazi Holocaust began with the dangerous words of men.”


Rwanda’s delegate said Holocaust remembrance had helped commemorate its victims, educated a generation of young people about genocide, and raised awareness across the broader public.  As a country that understood the horrors of genocide, Rwanda fully appreciated the significance of remembrance and the role it played in reconciliation and prevention of future genocides.


Also speaking on the Report of the Economic and Social Council and the integrated implementation of outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits were representatives of China, Uruguay, Russian Federation, Peru, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Belarus and Indonesia.


Presenting reports today on the cooperation between the United Nations and regional and other organizations were the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization and the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.


Representatives of India, Albania, Uruguay, Sweden, and Belarus introduced draft resolutions under the Agenda Item 114.


Also speaking on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and other organizations were the representatives of France (on behalf of the European Union), Portugal (on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries), New Zealand (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum), Uganda, Russian Federation, Singapore, Canada, Tunisia, Namibia, China, Senegal and Serbia.


Representatives of the Council of Europe, International Organization of La Francophonie, Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization and the League of Arab States also spoke.


Speaking on the report of the Holocaust remembrance were the representatives of the United States, Russian Federation, France (on behalf of the European Union), Austria, Canada, and Australia.


Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of Iran.


The General Assembly will reconvene on Tuesday, 4 November at 10 a.m. to take up the report of the Human Rights Council.


Background


The General Assembly met today for a joint debate on the report of the Economic and Social Council (document A/63/3 and A/63/255), and the integrated and coordinated implementation and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields.


The Assembly was also to consider the cooperation between the United Nations and other regional and other organizations.  As its final item of the day, the world body was expected to take up the Secretary-General’s report on the Programme of outreach on the Holocaust and the United Nations.


For its consideration of the follow-up to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences, the Assembly has before it a note by the Secretary-General (document A/63/255) transmitting the Report of the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund on the United Nations Population Fund Award (2008).  The Award annually recognizes outstanding contributions to finding solutions to population questions.


The note states that this year, the Committee for the United Nations Population Award received 18 nominations, of which 11 were for the individual category and 7 for the institutional category.  On 4 March, the Committee selected Dame Billie Miller of Barbados in the individual category and Family Fare International of the United States in the institutional category.


Ms. Miller was chosen for her outstanding work as an advocate and policymaker for policies, especially on gender, and success in building global understanding for universal access to reproductive health.  Family Care International was selected for its achievements in building a global partnership to end maternal mortality, and providing assistance for women at risk by promoting sexual and reproductive health for adolescents.  Also, as of 31 December 2007, the Trust Fund for the Award had a total balance of $1,777,604.96; interest income in that year was $40,255.41. Expenditures in 2008 totalled $74,617.74.


Also before the Assembly is the report of the Secretary-General on the Role of the Economic and Social Council in the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits, in the light of relevant General Assembly resolutions, including resolution 61/16 (document A/63/63-E/2008/77), which details the Council’s efforts to strengthen the follow-up to major United Nations conferences.  It examines efforts to enhance interaction between the Council and its subsidiary bodies, noting, in particular, that the annual ministerial review, launched in 2007, provides a central forum for all stakeholders to assess progress in overall implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.


The report concludes that, with the launch of the Annual Ministerial Review, the integrated and coordinated follow-up to conferences has become more substantive and visible.  That should be nurtured by full support from the United Nations’ functional commissions and funds, programmes and specialized agencies.  However, structural and procedural changes for making the Economic and Social Council system more coherent must be reviewed regularly, and a triennial approach may be the best manner in which to address that issue.


In the report, the Secretary-General recognizes that different goals agreed at major United Nations conferences and summits can be achieved only if pursued together, and first assesses progress made by the functional commissions, including the Commission on Sustainable Development, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, among others.  For their part, the regional commissions have focused follow-up work in research, policy analysis, and promoting policy dialogue and sharing best practices, among other areas.


The report also discusses the Council’s role in assessing how -- through strengthening policy coherence and addressing the link between policy and operational activities -- United Nations organizations integrate the development agenda into their work programmes.  Joint bureau meetings and interactive expert panels have encouraged collaboration between commissions on cross-cutting issues.


In recent years, United Nations organizations also have been more supportive of integrated conference follow-up on the country level, the report notes, citing the “One United Nations” approach.  Despite such advances, uneven capacities available to support country-level presences continue to limit the system’s ability to mount integrated and comprehensive responses.  The Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), which recently completed a review of its structure and working methods, is working to harmonize business practices across the system to ensure effectiveness in the delivery of assistance.


Also before the Assembly is the Secretary-General’s report on Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and other organizations (document A/63/228), prepared pursuant to the Assembly’s most recent requests for him to submit a report during the sixty-third session, on the implementation of various United Nations resolutions.  It details cooperative work of the African Union; Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization; Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); Black Sea Economic Cooperation; Caribbean Community; Community of Portuguese-speaking countries; Council of Europe; and Economic Cooperation Organization.


It also details cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Community; International Organization of la Francophonie; League of Arab States; Organization of the Islamic Conference; Pacific Islands Forum; the Southern African Development Community; and between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.  Also discussed is the United Nations’ cooperation with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).


The Assembly is also set to consider the Secretary-General’s report on the Programme of outreach on the “Holocaust and the United Nations” (document A/63/316), which describes work under the Department of Public Information’s outreach programme, established by Assembly resolution 60/7 (2005).  The theme “Remembrance and Beyond”, highlights two main elements of the programme:  remembering all Holocaust victims, and helping to prevent future acts of genocide.


Activities undertaken include an annual observance at United Nations Headquarters, notably, in 2007, of the second International Day to Commemorate Holocaust Victims and launch of a commemorative DVD on the first Holocaust remembrance in 2006.  In 2008, a memorial ceremony and concert were held in the Assembly Hall.  Around the world, remembrance activities for 2007 and 2008 included solemn ceremonies organized in Nairobi, Kenya, among other places; educational activities; exhibitions and media outreach.  The Department also organized Holocaust and genocide prevention seminars, a film series and multimedia outreach, among other activities.


Going forward, the Information Department will continue to forge partnerships to enhance outreach potential; provide educational materials on combating anti-Semitism; partner with the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre and Museum to provide educational materials for primary schoolchildren; observe the seventieth anniversary of the Kristallnacht Programme; provide United Nations Information Centres with photographs of the Holocaust exhibition in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish; and mount a 2009 exhibition on “Deadly Medicine”, depicting how Nazi Germany carried out a campaign to “cleanse” society of Jews and others.


The Assembly also has before it several draft resolutions.


By a draft on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (document A/63/L.7), the Assembly recommends that consideration of the sub-item on that topic be scheduled to coincide with deliberations of the Committee on the work of the International Law Commission.  It further requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on cooperation with the Consultative Organization, and decides to include a sub-item on the matter at its sixty-fifth session.


By a draft on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Black Sea economic Cooperation Organization (A/63/L.9), the Assembly invites the Secretary-General to strengthen dialogue with the Cooperation Organization, and the United Nations’ specialized agencies to continue programmes with the Cooperation Organization and its associated institutions.  It further requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on implementation of the resolution at the Assembly’s sixty-fifty session.


By a draft on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Latin American Caribbean Economic System (document A/63/L.10), the Assembly urges the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-ECLAC) to continue deepening mutual support activities with the System.  It urges United Nations specialized agencies and others to intensify support for the System, and contribute to joint actions to achieve internationally agreed development objectives, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration.


Also by the text, the Assembly requests the Secretary-General and the Permanent Secretary of the System to assess implementation of the Agreement between the two organizations, and report to the Assembly at its sixty-fifth session.  It further requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on implementation of the resolution at that session.


By a draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (A/63/L.11), the Assembly would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-fifth session, the sub-item entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty.


By a draft on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe (document A/63/L.12), the Assembly supports the development of cooperation, where appropriate, between the Peacebuilding Commission and the Council of Europe, with a view to promoting post-conflict reconstruction, development and peace consolidation, with full respect for human rights and the rule of law.


Further by the text, the Assembly encourages cooperation between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Council of Europe in the field of nationality, as well as in the area of democracy and good governance.  It further encourages cooperation between the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization and the Council, also encouraging joint action between UNESCO and the Council of Europe in the follow-up to the Faro Platform.


Also by the text, the Assembly requests the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and the Council to combine efforts in seeking answers to global challenges.  Finally by the text, the Assembly decides to include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-fifth session a sub-item on the “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe” and requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of the resolution.


By a draft on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Eurasian


Economic Community (document A/63/L.13), the Assembly invites United Nations specialized agencies and others to enhance direct contacts with the Eurasian Economic Community for the joint implementation of programmes; invites the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE), among others, to further contribute to the Community’s development of a concept as the basis for use of water and energy resources; requests the Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly at its sixty-fifth session a report on the implementation of the present resolution; and decides to include in the provisional agenda of that session the sub-item entitled on that issue.


By the draft resolution on smoke-free United Nations premises (document A/63/L.14) the Assembly, noting with concern the serious harmful impact of second-hand smoke on the health of non-smokers, which can lead to disease, disability and death, would “decide to implement a complete ban on smoking at United Nations Headquarters indoor premises and on sales of tobacco products at […] Headquarters premises.  It would also recommend the implementation of a complete ban on smoking at all United Nations indoors premises, including regional and country offices throughout the United Nations system, and the implementation of a complete ban on sales of tobacco products at all United Nations premises.


A text on Commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (document A/63/L.15) would have the Assembly devote one day, during its sixty-fourth session, to the commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development.


Introduction of Economic and Social Council Report


Launching the joint debate, LEO MERORES of Haiti, President of the Economic and Social Council, presented the Council’s 2008 report and said the 54-Member body’s substantive session in July occurred during a transition year for the Council.  It had operationalized many of the new functions given to it by the 2005 World Summit outcome document, particularly the biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) and the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) of international development goals.


He said the 2008 Forum had been a success and an important objective of its preparations was establishing the Council as a principal forum for global dialogue and policy review on the effectiveness of international development cooperation.  A second aim was to contribute to the outcome of key intergovernmental processes, such as the upcoming Doha Review Conference on development financing and the recently concluded Accra Forum.


While progress had been made in building political support for, and ownership of, the Forum by many stakeholders, the Forum nevertheless faced several challenges.  One was to strengthen its “distinct identity” as a leading global forum for dialogue among senior policy-makers dealing with the development cooperation at the country level.  Another was raising awareness about its work among practitioners at the country level.  He said it was important that the preparation of the 2010 Forum strengthened its contribution to international development cooperation and Member States and other stakeholders actively participated in the preparatory process.


The 2008 Ministerial Review had focused on sustainable development, which encompassed economic growth, social development and environmental protection.  It had also advanced the ongoing work on climate change.  The National Voluntary Presentations during the Review continued to be seen by Member States as a very important mechanism for strengthening accountability in the fulfilment of development goals, he said.  The 2008 High-level Segment ended with the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration, which had underscored the need for urgent and collective action to address the global financial turmoil, rising food and fuel prices, environmental degradation and climate change.


Many other outcomes of the Council’s substantive session were of importance for the Assembly’s work and would assist the Second (Economic and Financial) and Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) committees as well.  First, the Council was entrusted with the follow-up to the implementation of the Assembly resolution on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of Operational Activities for Development (TCPR).  Secondly, Member States had encouraged the ongoing strengthening of humanitarian coordination and condemned the increased attacks against the humanitarian personnel, urging the persecution of perpetrators.  The Council had started to convene emergency sessions, such as on the global food crisis.  It might be time to adopt a regular practice for turning to the Council whenever a major emergency occurred, he added.


Further, the Council’s role in peacebuilding and post-conflict development was recognized and had received unwavering support from Member States.  The Council’s informal discussion on interaction between ECOSOC and the Peacebuilding Commission had generated a general consensus on exploring ways to bring development work into the Commission, and bring the peace and security dimensions of peacebuilding into the Council’s work, he said.


In other areas, the Council intended to expand the range of stakeholders that the United Nations could partner with, including the philanthropic community, with the possible creation of a United Nations Philanthropy Day.  He said the Council had opened new areas of cooperation with various stakeholders and it had great potential for becoming the forum for promoting collaborative action during current crises.


Statements and Introduction of Drafts


JOHN ASHE (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said at the Economic and Social Council’s 2008 substantive session on the theme of “implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to sustainable development”, Ministers had recognized that the global community was meeting at a crucial juncture in realizing those goals.  They had expressed determination to take concerted actions to promote progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, and he hoped that the political will required would be demonstrated in a timely manner.


During the Council’s discussions on various economic and social issues, his delegation had identified several areas in which progress was lagging, he said.  There was general agreement that global challenges, such as climate change and crises in food, finance and energy, must be addressed in an integrated manner.  Though States had the framework of the Millennium Goals around which to rally their efforts, actual implementation was “woefully lacking”.  There was now an opportunity to act, but that window would close if States were not swift with concrete responses, he said.


In considering today’s topic, he stressed the need for a strong and direct link between coordination and development effectiveness, and, in that regard, priority must be placed on monitoring results at the country level.  On policy coherence, he said the United Nations was the best intergovernmental forum for advancing the development agenda, as it, through the Council, was key to ensuring that developed country policies were consistent with developing country goals.


Reiterating that real progress on the Global Partnership for Development goal must become a priority, he said coordination of humanitarian assistance –- in situations of natural disaster and in complex emergency -– was among other challenges.  It was critical that affected States, donors and the United Nations coordinate to provide humanitarian assistance and development support.  His delegation hoped that the global community would take urgent measures to address the debilitating implementation gaps, notably in technology transfer, food security, and official development assistance.


On the draft resolution entitled commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (document A/63/L.15), he said that next year would mark the fifteenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in September 1994.  There was now a chance to review progress.  The draft proposed that one day in the sixty-fourth session be devoted to that Conference, and he looked forward to a “fitting” commemoration of “ICPD+15”.


Introducing a text on smoke-free United Nations premises (document A/63/L.14), he said that the Council, by a resolution, had recommended that the Assembly consider implementation of a complete ban on smoking at United Nations Headquarters and country offices, as well as that on the sale of tobacco products.  He was heartened by all States’ support for the draft and he looked forward to its adoption by consensus.


He noted that in operative paragraph 3, that the words “the measures for” should be inserted so that the text read:  “requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-fourth session a report on the measures for the implementation of the present resolution”.


PHILIPPE DELACROIX (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, stated its support of the Economic and Social Council and expressed conviction that the Development Cooperation Forum, during the Council’s High-Level debate, was a key component in examining aid architecture, encouraging dialogue and strengthening coordination among all relevant participants.


To enhance and expand the Forum’s efficiency towards more interactive discussion on cooperation and development issues, the European Union highlighted several points.  Its role in the Accra Agenda for Action would aid in international dialogue about the spirit of the global partnership.  In addition, the Annual Ministerial Review during the High-Level Segment was equally important as a way of implementing the outcomes of conferences and summits.


The European Union was one of the largest contributors to the health-related activities of the United Nations system, in particular to the World Health Organization, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, as well as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and it welcomed the developing countries to share their experiences and processes in implementing international development goals.  The balance between developing and developed countries that volunteered for National Voluntary Presentations was crucial to that end.


He concluded by stressing the need for further reform of the Council’s working methods, noting that an increased coordination between the Council’s work, and the funds and programmes of the United Nations and the General Assembly would ensure the Council’s role of guiding and coordinating international responses in the economic, social and environmental fields.


GABRIELA GONZALEZ ( Uruguay), speaking on the draft resolution concerning a smoke-free environment, associated herself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China.  She reaffirmed her full support for the draft, as her country attached particular importance to that issue, and was firmly committed to anti-tobacco policies.  It had ratified polices aimed at the well-being of its population.


Continuing, she said tobacco consumption was associated with various diseases, ranging from cancer to cardio and pulmonary diseases.  Second-hand smoke was damaging to all people’s health, and the United Nations should help limit and reduce people’s exposure.  The United Nations should set a public health example, and act in line with that.  To that end, she urged the Assembly to take prompt action on that topic.


ALEXANDER ALIMOV ( Russian Federation), noting that it was the leading platform of solutions to the pressing problems facing the world, called for the strengthening of the role of the Economic and Social Council.  Clearly, the more focused and flexible work of the Council showed in both the Annual Ministerial Review and its response to the financial crisis.


The Development Corporate Forum had also been successful in providing a universal platform for a broad range of participants, from civil society to private partners.  It had also promoted effective agreements and had offered concrete plans, which had welcomed in necessary compromises.  Strengthening the Council in its annual coordination segments, he noted, should become the main forum for the groundwork of the Council’s work.  The Operational Segment outcomes gave the United Nations its policy guidance.


He went on to stress that the Council should continue its role to challenge the obstacles to the Millennium Development Goals, including the food crisis.  In that respect, the Rome Declaration and Task Force could be a sound basis for the international community in that area.  He concluded with a call for the Council’s upcoming substantive session to advocate and focus on global health, a priority that Russia supported in a timely and consistent fashion.


JORGE VOTO-BERNALES ( Peru) noted two years had passed since the resolution on strengthening the Economic and Social Council and that annual substantive reviews of that resolution were needed.  The launch of the Development Cooperation Forum in July had been important in ensuring that such issues would be reviewed by the Council to enhance cooperation for development.  For that to go ahead, voices of stakeholders -- including civil society and the private sector -- must be strengthened by supporting high-level dialogue.


He went on to call for paying attention to climate change, and policy coherence, among other issues; providing high-quality analysis on development topics; providing an inclusive debate on that topic.  The Forum must bring together progress achieved globally, with mutual accountability.


Another key event had been the thematic event on rural development in developing countries, he said, noting that his delegation had stressed that biodiversity protection had not been dealt with effectively, and awareness to that end must be heightened.  Rules and incentives to mitigate the effects of climate change were needed, as was technical and financial assistance.  The intellectual property rights current regimes must be reviewed, and he was concerned about efforts to ensure the protection of traditional knowledge.


He underscored that utmost support be given to the Commission for the Legal Empowerment of the Poor, co-chaired by former United States Secretary of State Madeline Albright.  Peru had been elected to that Commission, and was excited to return to the Council.  Combating poverty and inequity was among the most daunting challenges, and the well-being of people should be at the core of the Council’s activities.  In that regard, he called for refocusing the work on the individual.  There should be “more action and less rhetoric”, which required flexible follow-up mechanisms in all the Council’s areas of action.


NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said he would like to comment on the Council’s role in overseeing trends in international development cooperation and the 2008 report.  He referred to the thirty-ninth session of the Statistical Commission and its work with the indicators for the Millennium Development Goals.  He did not approve of efforts to change targets of Goal 8 on the global partnership for development to those similar to Goal 1 on ending poverty and hunger, without the approval of Member States, saying that doing so would weaken the monitoring of the Millennium Development Goals.  Such a move also went against the spirit of global partnership development.  He urged the General Assembly to look at the matter more deeply during its current session.


KENJU MURAKAMI (Japan), affirming his delegation’s commitment to the responsibilities of being a member of the Economic and Social Council for the term 2009-2011, announced Japan’s plans to make a National Voluntary Presentation at the Annual Ministerial Review in Geneva next year.  The High-Level Meeting on African Development Needs and the High-level Event on the Millennium Development Goals in September, he continued, had sent strong messages to world leaders to continue supporting Africa and the accomplishment of those Goals.  To that end, Japan had hosted both the Tokyo International Conference on African Development IV (TICAD) and the Group of Eight (G-8) Summit.


At TICAD IV, representatives of 51 African countries, along with donor countries and international organizations had met to rally around the “Toward a Vibrant Africa” initiative.  The importance of ownership of developing countries and the partnership of the international community in advancing development were crucial components towards accelerating broad-based economic growth, ensuring human security and consolidating peace and good governance, as well as addressing environmental issues and climate change.


At the G-8 Summit in July, world leaders had focused on the areas of health, water and sanitation, and education.  In working together to ensure the success of the Millennium Development Goals agenda, their efforts would “improve human security through protection and empowerment of individuals and communities.”  The G-8 had also highlighted the need to pursue a comprehensive approach to health care systems with emphases on improving maternal, newborn and child health, as well as combating infectious diseases.  Addressing climate change, the G-8 leaders had worked with all Parties to consider ongoing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations, with the goal of achieving at least 50 per cent reduction of global emissions by 2050.


He concluded by reiterating Japan’s deep commitment to providing leadership and support towards global sustained economic development, and to continue to fight for the eradication of poverty.


BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) emphasized the role of the General Assembly in ensuring the overall monitoring and oversight of implementation of decisions made in global multilateral forums, along with the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council’s role as a central mechanism for system-wide coordination for integrated and coordinated implementation of outcomes from major United Nations conferences and summits.  She noted the Council’s successful finalization of its multi-year programme of work, based on a focused and balanced list of cross-sectoral thematic issues common to the outcomes of global multilateral events, which assisted the Council in providing greater coherence and effectiveness.


She also noted new Economic and Social Council functions such as the Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum, which had positioned the Council as a principal forum for global dialogue and policy review, and historic in its gathering of representatives from Governments, the private sector, inter-governmental organizations and academia, to discuss development cooperation issues.  Most meaningful to Kazakhstan had been the assessment of its Millennium Development Goal achievement progress during the second Annual Ministerial Review.  She appreciated the Department of Economic and Social Affairs experts and the Council’s Secretariat for technical assistance with her Government’s presentation.


She welcomed the Council’s leadership role in development, with its global debates in search of appropriate responses to the consequences of economic insecurity caused by the overlap of food, fuel, and financial crises, along with ongoing involvement of functional and regional commissions, which were instrumental in maintaining focus on the implementation of the outcomes of conferences.  For that purpose, she called on Member States to support the opening of subregional offices of regional commissions.


The Council would also direct deliberations and work plans towards the implementation of development programmes in addition to Millennium Development Goals, with additional efforts from development partners.  Further to that end, the Council should continue to enhance its high-level segment with Bretton Woods Institutions in 2009; the periodic session of the Commission on Sustainable Development; the review of the Commission on the Status of Women; and the future outcome of the Doha round of World Trade Organization negotiations.  In conclusion, she expressed continued commitments to her country’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and had conviction in the Economic and Social Council’s critical role in forging global partnership for steady development.


LOREN LEGARDA (Philippines) noted that the Economic and Social Council’s Annual Ministerial Review’s focus on sustainable development this year had been in line with Philippine’s positions on cross-cutting issues such as the food crisis, climate change and the gender gap that had been reported during the Commission on Sustainable Development’s substantive session last May.  She said greater focus should be given to adaptation to climate change than mitigation, and explained that two weeks ago, parliamentarians from countries vulnerable to global warming gathered at a consultative meeting in Manila had come up with the “Manila Call for Action of Parliamentarians on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation”.


The Philippines, along with those countries, would also look into the compliance of their respective Governments with the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015).  She reaffirmed a call by the Parliamentarians’ to the United Nations and the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) to commence the process of transforming the Hyogo Framework into an internationally binding legal instrument.  That would strengthen commitment to, and ensure the realization of, the goals and objectives of the Framework.


As one of the world’s largest importers of rice, the Philippines remained critically engaged in the process on the food crisis.  The World Economic Forum had ranked the Philippines as the only Asian country in the top ten of the Global Gender Gap index -– an achievement that reflected the narrowing of the gender gap, but did not reflect the vulnerability faced by women in light of the current global crises.  All the major global crises that had made headlines over the past year fell within the purview of the Economic and Social Council.  Those crises posed a grave threat to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, she added.


The relatively new mechanisms set up under the Council –- the Annual Ministerial Review and the Development Cooperation Forum -– offered the possibility of tackling current challenges and exploring how they would affect the international development cooperation in a rational manner.  The Philippines supported the recommendations contained in the Secretary General’s report that were aimed at streamlining and rationalizing the functions and operations of the Council and the functional commissions.  She also supported taking a closer look at the utility of triennializing the report on integrated follow-up to reduce the amount of work that might not have any useful outcomes.


ANDREI DAPKIUNAS ( Belarus) said this year had been difficult, particularly in that the weakness of coordinating mechanisms had led to multifaceted crises in food, energy and finance.  Indeed, radical reform of the international financial institutions was needed.  In that regard, he welcomed the Council’s review of the status of global efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and its convening of special sessions with heads of Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization.  He believed that practice should continue.


Continuing, he said Belarus had advocated enhancing the Council’s role.  The Council must be the centre for global community efforts and should convene a high-level meeting on overcoming the financial crisis.  He welcomed the integration of the Development Cooperation Forum and the Annual Ministerial Review, explaining also that further steps were needed.  Other steps should include assistance to middle-income countries, and he called for providing them with the broadest possible capacity to help them implement sound and effective development strategies.


DEWI SAVITRI WAHAB ( Indonesia) urged the Assembly to strengthen its relationship with other principal organs for better coordination.  He called on the Economic and Social Council to ensure follow-up of outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits, including those that had identified the internationally agreed development goals.  The Council’s launch last year of the Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum had contributed to those inter-related goals, and both forums helped with implementation by bridging the gap between the normative and operational work of the United Nations.


Two achievements had been measures of success in those endeavours:  the impact on enhancing integration of the international development agenda into the United Nations system’s programmes of work, and in its effectiveness in the provision of coherent support to national strategy implementation, he said.  Additional achievements to the Council’s implementation of internationally agreed upon goals had been the multi-year programme of work adopted by the Annual Ministerial Review, which provided a clear structure for its deliberations and mobilized the engagement of functional commissions, along with the first biennial Development Cooperation Forum meeting, which had provided clear policy direction on the Doha Review Conference on Financing for Development.


He went on to urge the Regional Commission to align their programmes of work with regional priority areas, and to strengthen their capacities by working together with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  He called for policy coherence at all levels, but noted that at the intergovernmental level, the contributions of the functional commissions were still ad-hoc, and that they needed a clear, systematic way of participating in the work of the Annual Ministerial Review.


He also highlighted United Nations present efforts to enhance coordination through closer interaction among the Council, the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs, and the new United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination structure, in ensuring effective support for implementation of conference commitments, in addition to the “One UN” approach.  Concluding, he stated that the recommendation to triennialize the Assembly’s consideration of the report merited further consideration, and that it might be more valuable following the timing of the Council’s current restructuring.


Action on Draft Resolutions


The Assembly then adopted by consensus resolutions on a Smoke-free United Nations premises (document A/63/L.14), and on the Commemoration of the fifteenth Anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (document A/63/L.15).


Cooperation Between the United Nations and Regional and Other Organizations


TIBOR TOTH, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, reported on the status of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the progress of the Preparatory Commission, an essential pillar of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  The Treaty was essentially a ban on all nuclear testing for all people, for all time.  It foresaw the creation of a global and democratic verification regime to monitor compliance with the Treaty’s provisions.  In 1996, the year the Treaty had been opened for signature, the Preparatory Commission had been created to build the verification regime in anticipation of the Treaty’s entry-into-force.


With its cutting edge technical and scientific capabilities, the Commission could have a substantial contribution to make to United Nations’ efforts to help develop a coordinated approach to the challenges of climate change, and other applications.  Its International Monitoring System spanned the globe and observed the atmosphere, oceans and land masses.  The widespread environmental monitoring, meant for ensuring compliance with the Treaty’s provisions, could be adapted to other means, he said.  For example, the monitoring system was unprecedented in its global reach in some of the harshest but most meteorologically relevant environments, and could help the international community address global climate change issues successfully.


The data being generated could be applied to other uses, such as tsunami warning alert purposes.  After cooperation with UNESCO, agreements for the provision of data for tsunami warning purposes had been signed with institutions in Australia, Japan and the Philippines.  More were to follow with Indonesia and other countries, he said.


While acknowledging progress made over the years, he said the Treaty was more necessary than ever, and all the progress would be for nothing if the Treaty could not be brought into force.  The Commission now had 180 members and was five ratifications away from crossing the 150 ratification barrier.  Yet, because of the treaty’s own built-in mechanisms, nine countries remained whose ratification was necessary for its entry into force.


The Treaty was the last, and most visible, legal and technical barrier to the development of nuclear weapons.  It could keep the disarmament and non-proliferation regime from unravelling as the twenty-first century and its many challenges moved ahead.


ROGELIO PFIRTER, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), noted that the Chemical Weapons Convention, which established the disarmament and non-proliferation regime, had consistently received support and had strengthened the ongoing challenges to the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons from State Parties, and the United Nations.  That had been obvious in the overwhelming support shown for the Convention at the High-Level Meeting commemorating the 10th Anniversary of its operation.


In review of the progress made, he also touched upon future challenges.  In September 2008, the destruction of 28,600 metric tons of Category 1 chemical weapons, which was 41.25 per cent of the total stockpiles of six States Parties, had been verified.  Since his last report two years ago, the figure of chemical weapons destroyed had doubled.  And two of the six declared possessors, Albania and “A State Party”, had fulfilled their obligations under the Convention.  India was currently close to reaching its obligation as well.


However, he said the major burden of the significant amount still remaining to be destroyed was with Russian Federation and the United States.  The Russian Federation, to date, had completed the destruction of more than 11,600 metric tons, about 29 per cent of its Category 1 chemical weapons.  That and the commissioning of new destruction facilities clearly showed the Russian Federation’s commitment to fulfilling its obligation under the Convention’s timeframe.


The United States had also completed the destruction of nearly 15,400 metric tons, about 55.4 per cent of its declared stockpiles and it also provided critically needed assistance to other countries in their own destruction efforts.  Both countries were to be commended for their resolve and transparency and cooperation with the delegations of the Executive Council to their chemical weapons destruction facilities, he said.


China and Japan also were to be commended for their cooperative efforts on the destruction of all chemical weapons abandoned by Japan in China.  Libya had also made great progress on destruction facilities for the destruction of their chemical weapons in 2011.  However, he said the time remaining to reach the goal of total destruction was close at hand, and a significant amount still remained to be destroyed.


He said the OPCW also had conducted almost 3,500 inspections at 195 chemical weapons-related facilities, and over 1,100 industrial sites in 81 State Parties.  Still, there were also nearly 4,500 industrial facilities that required inspection.  In order to achieve its goal of the complete elimination of declared chemical weapon stockpiles, an industry verification regime need to be developed.  That would mean that all categories of relevant facilities, in particular the “other chemical production facilities” would be included in the verification regime.


The majority of the international community were now State Parties to the Convention.  However, 11 countries outside the accord remained a challenge to achieving the goals of the Convention.  In that regard, he commended Iraq’s decision to deposit its instrument of accession with the Secretary-General, and noted that Lebanon was expected to do so as well.  The remaining 9 countries were making tangible progress in their domestic preparation.


In that regard, he urged countries in the Middle East to region “de-link their consideration of joining the Convention from other political regional issues”.  He applauded both Egypt and Israel, a signatory State, for the on-going dialogue and constructive engagement, despite their reservations on joining the Convention.  He offered hope that Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would be open to some discussion on the abolition of chemical weapons.


E.M. SUDARSANA NATCHIAPPAN (India), as chairman of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO), introduced resolution A/63/L.7 on the cooperation between the United Nations and AALCO, and pointed out that the organization had, over the last 50 years, acquired a unique stature in promoting legal cooperation among Asian and African States in the field of international law.


The AALCO annual conference, held in New Delhi this year, had been well attended by ministers and senior officials from Member States, in addition to observer delegations and representatives of international organizations, he said.  The exchange of views that had taken place on contemporary issues of international law, including subjects being studied by the International Law Commission and those arising in connection with the implementation of the world trade regime, had proved highly beneficial to participants.


Noting that reports of the AALCO and other declarations adopted at its annual sessions had become an important source for the development of international law, he pointed out that AALCO had dedicated its efforts to identifying the common interests of Africa and Asia on a variety of contemporary issues before the United Nations and other world bodies, thus helping the evolution of a fair, just and equitable universal legal order.


Those views were duly communicated to the United Nations by AALCO, as well as to the International Law Commission.  He urged AALCO to expand its activities by progressing its several forward-looking plans for the benefit of its Member States, and in that regard, pointed to the special training programmes for promoting teaching and expertise in legal advising in international law; establishment of special chairs in international law teaching in universities of Member States; offer of fellowships to Asian and African students to pursue higher studies in international law, among other areas of collaboration.


LUBLIN DILJA ( Albania) introduced, on behalf of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC), the draft resolution contained in document A/63/L9, on cooperation between the United Nations and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization.  The resolution encouraged cooperation between the United Nations and the BSEC Organization, while it reiterated the conviction that the multilateral cooperation contributed to peace, stability and security.


The BSEC Organization offered a pragmatic and results–oriented approach to regional problems and more efficient use of resources.  Expanded regional cooperation through BSEC and its interaction with other regional and international groups was the best way to address upcoming threats and challenges, and contribute to a more peaceful and secure world.  The draft resolution before the Assembly considered the ongoing reform to increase BSEC effectiveness.  It aimed to promote cooperation among members of BSEC and its strategic partners around the world.


The representative of ( Uruguay) introduced draft resolution A/63/L.10 on cooperation between the United Nations and the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System, an inter-governmental regional agency created in 1975 and headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela.  That agency promoted consultation to develop economic strategies for the region in cooperation with international agencies, and to enhance integration among countries.  In 1991, the United Nations and the agency agreed to expand cooperation on topics of common interest.


ANDERS LIDÉN ( Sweden) introduced draft resolution A/63/L.11 on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), saying first that political momentum was building around the Treaty.  Indeed, there was increased attention on the role of the Treaty in nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation, among the most important challenges today.  Noting the Treaty’s importance for the overall non-proliferation regime, and in raising the threshold for acquisition of nuclear weapons, he said positive developments regarding the Treaty’s ratification would give impetus to its 2010 review.


Further, he said the Treaty’s verification was well advanced in its build-up, with more than 80 per cent of the international monitoring system stations certified or constructed.  Given that, the verification regime appeared ready for the Treaty to soon enter into force.  The coming period would be a defining one for the Treaty’s future, and Sweden, with its consistent work to further the Treaty, had steadfastly supported the CTBTO Preparatory Commission.  With that, he called for support of the draft.


Turning to resolution A63/L.12 on cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe, he said the text demonstrated the wide range of areas in which the United Nations and the Council cooperated.  Informal consultations had been conducted among United Nations Member States, and he thanked States for their cooperative approach.  With the changes agreed in that process, he hoped the text would be adopted by consensus.


ANDREI DAPKIUNAS ( Belarus) introduced draft resolution A/63/L.13 on cooperation between the United Nations organizations and the Eurasian Economic Community, explaining that the Community was created in 2000, and, since 2003, had been an Observer to the General Assembly.  It had closely cooperated with the United Nations agencies, and to strengthen that institutional framework, the Community had signed a 2006 Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


Last year, the Assembly had adopted its first resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Community, which had been a basis for strengthened cooperation, he said.  The present resolution had been prepared on the basis of the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the first text in such fields as water resource management, energy, technical progress and transfer.  The draft also contained an invitation to continue cooperation between organizations.  He thanked all co-sponsors that took part in consultations.


ROBERT DEL PICCHIA (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the development of the regional integration process was one of the key factors contributing to economic development and maintaining peace and security around the world.  Naturally, improved cooperation with the United Nations went hand in hand with development.  The European Union was one of the most ambitious and successful examples of regional integration.  It had succeeded in bridging divides and promoting prosperity within its borders and its role fell fully within the spirit of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.


He said further that the Union had endorsed the objective of mutual reinforcement of the United Nations and regional organizations.  With the 2003 and 2007 European Union-United Nations declarations, cooperation between the two in crisis management and security had developed significantly, particularly within the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy supporting United Nations peacekeeping operations.  Beyond security, the Union gave constant support to the Organization in terms of humanitarian and development assistance, and in the defence and promotion of human rights.


Underlining the importance of developing regional integration throughout the world, he said the Union had developed institutional ties with various regional organizations and had promoted strengthening those organizations through its development policy.  He cited Security Council Resolution 1631 (2005) on the cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in terms of peacekeeping and international security as an important framework, and endorsed the close cooperation between the Organization and the African Union.


The European Union also supported close cooperation between itself, the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  The development of cooperation between the Council of Europe and the United Nations was also welcomed, particularly with respect to intercultural dialogue, child protection, combating violence against women, protecting refugees and promoting human rights teaching.


Pointing to the rapprochement with the International Organization of the Francophonie, he particularly welcomed the stepped-up cooperation between the two on peacekeeping.  Noting the important role of the IPU in achieving the objectives of the United Nations Charter, he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the report of that body’s annual parliamentary hearing with the United Nations be distributed in an official United Nations document.  The European Union also strongly supported stronger cooperation from the United Nations on the CTBT.


GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that CARICOM, for the most part, comprised small island developing States that faced challenges in achieving sustainable development peculiar to that status.  The effects of climate change were an overwhelming and enduring concern.


He noted a number of environmental initiatives facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama, which sought to build capacity of CARICOM States to meet their obligations under a selected set of multilateral environmental agreements.  UNEP was also working with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and the CARICOM Secretariat to keep the region updated on preparations for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, he said.


On food security, he continued, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) was active in the region, promoting the nexus between food security, climate change, sustainable development and agriculture.  FAO engaged in a wide range of agricultural activities in the region, from promoting food security through the Regional Food Security Programme, to providing direct grants to mitigate the rise in food prices.  Those funds had helped small-scale farm production with the input of resources such as seeds, fertilizer, chemicals and tools, and by assisting Member States to, among other things, develop sustainable strategies in economic production of food.


He noted the tremendous benefit to the Community of technical training, advisory and operational assistance, from UNDP.  That assistance had been strategic, substantive and truly development-oriented.  He further recognized critical development assistance received from United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  CARICOM States also looked forward to their fifth General Meeting with the United Nations system in January 2009 in New York, he said.


Security was given such importance by CARICOM countries that it was included as the fourth pillar of Caribbean integration, joining the three pillars of human and social development, trade and economic integration, and foreign policy coordination, and looked to United Nations specialized agencies to support their efforts.  In that context, he called for the reopening of an office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the Caribbean.


He continued, speaking of CARICOM’s contributions to the broader community, through its efforts for effective implementation of the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, and also towards the conclusion of an arms trade treaty, as well as through participation in dialogue on issues of Security Council reform; the Peacebuilding Commission; and the Human Rights Council, among other activities.


JOAO SALGUEIRO (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, said in the two years since the adoption of resolution 61/223 (2007), the Community’s relations with the United Nations had strengthened in an “impressive” manner, which had proven to be mutually advantageous.  Highlighting examples of existing initiatives and partnerships, such as a 25 April 2008 information-exchange agreement with the Portuguese Unit of United Nations Radio, he said the Community’s actions demonstrated its engagement in United Nations actions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.


In line with the United Nations Charter, which encouraged regional cooperation, the Community also had reached cooperation agreements with various regional, subregional and intergovernmental organizations, including the African Union and the Council of Europe.  He expected that a 2007 Memorandum of Understanding with the European Commission would provide for “great improvements” in the Community’s multilateral cooperation framework.  Recalling the Community’s seventh summit in Lisbon, Portugal on 25 July, he said promoting Portuguese as a global language was a main priority of Portugal’s current two-year chairmanship of the Community.


On the work of the Peacebuilding Commission’s country-specific configuration on Guinea-Bissau, chaired by Brazil, he said the Community had been assisting in that country’s electoral process, notably with the deployment of an electoral observer mission.  In Timor-Leste, the Community was deeply committed to strengthening State institutions.  In the coming days, the Community would introduce a draft resolution that encouraged the establishment of a formal cooperation agreement between the Secretariats of the United Nations and the Community.


DON PRAMUDWINAI (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the delegation welcomed the strengthening of regionalism as a building block and supporting pillar for an effective global multilateralism that was embodied in the United Nations.  ASEAN was committed to advancing the objectives of the United Nations in Southeast Asia.  By managing differences and emphasizing common needs, ASEAN had been able to overcome many of the region’s challenges.


However, ASEAN knew it could not become complacent, and there was now a renaissance among its members.  At the ASEAN Summit in Singapore last year, regional leaders had taken a bold step forward and signed a landmark ASEAN Charter, which provided a legal and institutional framework to make the group a more rules-based, people-oriented and effective organization.  Its goal was to transform a region of more than 500 million people into an ASEAN Community by 2015.  He said the ASEAN Member States were working to ratify the Charter in time for its entry-into-force at the fourteenth ASEAN Summit in Thailand in December 2008.


The long-term partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations was still growing.  In 2006, ASEAN had been granted observer status in the Assembly, and last year, the Secretaries-General of ASEAN and the United Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding on ASEAN-United Nations Cooperation, to promote a full range of cooperation based on mutual benefits.  The tragic Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 tested the resilience of the partnership and helped build a diplomatic bridge with the international community through the United Nations, he said.


ASEAN was determined to build on such momentum, and the third ASEAN-United Nations Summit would be held in Thailand in December.  He said that endeavours that would benefit from cooperation included the current global financial crisis, the Millennium Development Goals, food and energy security, environmental management, and fighting infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDs, malaria and avian flu.


This year, ASEAN would submit a biennial draft resolution, “cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations”.  It was based on the most recent resolution on this subject, which had been adopted by consensus in December 2006.  It contained factual updates of the positive developments regarding cooperation over the past two years, he added.


ROSEMARY BANKS ( New Zealand), on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum, spoke of the regular consultations between the Forum’s Secretariat and the United Nations.  Moving towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the “United Nations Delivering as One” programme was in place and being implemented throughout the Pacific region.  The United Nations Development Assistance Framework for the Pacific Subregion was also being interwoven into the Millennium Goals.  In ensuring the success of their progress, she stated the need to work more closely together on the Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action, as well as the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, among others.


The global crises facing all Member States were especially difficult for the small, isolated economies of the Pacific region.  With the support of United Nations Development Programme and Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the integration of the Millennium Development Goals into national development strategies was progressing.  Pacific leaders had also adopted the Pacific Ad Effectiveness Principles, as a result of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness as part of enhancing donor coordination.  She said those strategies and collaborations had strengthened the regions ability to engage with the international community.  In addition, the United Nations Children’s Fund’s efforts with improved nutrition, child immunization, better quality child-focused data and budgeting were much needed and utilized.


Noting great appreciation for the valuable presence of the United Nations in the region, she acknowledged in her conclusion the potential to increase the partnerships between the United Nations and the Pacific Island Forum.  She reminded the Assembly that the Pacific region was particularly vulnerable to climate change and urged all Member States to support the resolution “Security and Climate Change”, which had been submitted by Pacific Small Island Developing States under agenda item 107.


FRANCIS K. BUTARIA ( Uganda), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), commended the Secretary-General for the comprehensive and informative biennial report under consideration.  The report noted the efforts undertaken by the United Nations and the OIC in enhancing practical cooperation and building complementarity through regular meetings at the level of the Secretary General’s, as well as through consultations between other critical actors.


It drew attention to the International Conference on Terrorism in November 2007 held in Tunisia.  The report also noted the Meeting of Representatives of the United Nations system and the OIC and its specialized institutions in Geneva in July, and reviewed cooperation in various fields including science and technology.  He pointed out that the report also noted that the Office for Coordination of Human Affairs had been developing dialogue with OIC to reach out to non-governmental organizations and other humanitarian actors in Islamic countries, and that the United Nations Children Fund had been exploring ways to develop and formalize its partnership with OIC.


He went on to note that the biennial General Meeting had acknowledged that OIC remained an important partner to the United Nations in peace and security and in fostering a culture of peace at the global level.  He recalled the agreement between the two bodies to continue cooperation in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  He also pointed to the United Nations’ offer to inform and invite OIC to seminars and other training opportunities in the areas of conflict prevention, negotiations, mediation and elections organised by and for the United Nations.


The two organizations should also strengthen cooperation in fighting poverty in member states to promote sustainable development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, among other things.  He said OIC would be tabling a draft resolution under the item in discussion and looked forward to the full support of all the Conference’s partners.


VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said building collective approaches to overcome threats required the gradual strengthening between the United Nations and regional organizations.  Both were destined to use their comparative advantages, which, for the United Nations, was the diversity of its membership, and for regional organizations, their understanding of local issues.  A clear division of labour would expand the global community’s ability to handle crises, he added.


The Russian Federation supported enhancing cooperation between United Nations and collective treaty organizations, notably the Eurasian Economic Community, which had worked to overcome challenges at the regional and local levels.  Regional integration projects had drawn in countries from sub-regions.  Cooperation between the Commonwealth of Independent States –- Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Community was underway in areas such as trans-boundary crime prevention, environmental protection and regulation of migration flows.


The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was playing a growing role in such areas as combating terrorism and rebuilding Afghanistan, he said, noting that he favoured strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and the Eurasian Economic Community, which itself was growing rapidly.  Cooperation was underway in areas including environmental protection and migration.


While welcoming achievements highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report, he called for deepening cooperation to ensure more impact.  His delegation had submitted a resolution to enhance cooperation between the United Nations and the Eurasian Economic Community, and hoped it would be adopted by consensus.


He said the Russian Federation was part of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, and supported further enhancing its work.  The way to ensure regional stability was through implementing mutually beneficial economic projects, and, in that regard, he highlighted the circular motorway.  He supported BSEC’s work to create a common energy strategy, noting that it should continue to work with nations outside the region, participating on the basis of non-interference.  As part of the European cooperation infrastructure, it contributed to integrational processes on the continent, fully supported the General Assembly’s resolution and had become a co-sponsor.


Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe would help protect human rights, he said, and the draft resolution on that matter fully met such goals.  He hoped it would be adopted by consensus.  The Security Council had a primordial responsibility to ensure the legitimacy of peacekeeping operations.  In closing, he urged increasing cooperation with partners in Africa, including the African Union.


VANU GOPALA MENON (Singapore), associating himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said much of the Assembly’s work this session had been clouded by “bad news”, notably the lack of progress in the Doha round of World Trade Organization talks, food and fuel price crises and the global financial meltdown.  Smaller countries such as his own had a strong, vested interest in seeing international institutions strengthened to better deal with such problems.  While reform of the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions was urgent, those organizations should be made more effective through forging strong partnerships with regional institutions.


Citing ASEAN’s role in building a “bridge of trust” between the Government of Myanmar and the global community in the wake of cyclone Nargis in May, he said ASEAN had worked with the United Nations and other agencies to “make a huge difference”. In the process, ASEAN countries had learned a great deal about disaster management from agencies like the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.


However, it was a fact that every region had distinctive characteristics, which must be taken into account, he said, noting that there was no “one-size-fits-all” model for cooperation. Unfortunately, his delegation had noticed a tendency among some States to impose their values at the regional level, and he cited 2004 attempts by the Council of Europe to impose its views on the death penalty. He was baffled by the Council’s attempt again this year to slip elements into its draft resolution. In closing, he urged working in collaboration to strengthen the United Nations and regional organizations. “This is no time to be running roughshod over each other’s views”, he added.


JOHN MCNEE (Canada), stressing that cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations was essential in achievement of globally agreed development goals, as well as key to peace and security efforts, drew attention to Canada’s establishment of partnerships with various regional players, such as the African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Southern African Development Community (SADC), ASEAN, and the Organization of American States, on a variety of issues.


He went on to highlight the responsibilities that went along with Member States’ support of such cooperation, such as the provision of adequate resources from donor countries’ for their troops on peace missions.  Here, he noted that the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union in Darfur, which illustrated a number of possibilities and demonstrated the challenges such cooperation could pose.  Further, extensive cooperation was necessary amongst relevant bodies of the United Nations and the African Union because issues like peace and security were closely linked to human rights, to governance and development as well.


He also highlighted the cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of La Francophonie, particularly in regard to strengthening the Francophonie’s diplomatic capabilities in prevention and mediation towards more effective resolution of international crises, especially in French-speaking countries.  Recently, the Quebec City Declaration had been adopted as a result of the twelfth Francophone Summit, with concrete commitments made on issues such as mobilization of the international community in light of the current financial crisis, democracy and the rule of law, governance and economic solidarity, the environment and the French language.


Regarding peacekeeping operations, he noted the Francophonie’s work in mobilizing French-speaking contingents, with more than half of such troops deployed by Francophone countries.  At the same time, he pointed out the communication problems on the ground resulting from the increase in missions and the decline in French-speakers heading up such operations.  Though resolution 61/7 had defined the cooperation framework between the United Nations and the International Organization of Francophonie, Canada planned to submit a draft resolution to update its parameters in light of the Quebec City Declaration, to guide future joint activities.  He hoped that the “Francophone experience” could be used to the fullest extent in carrying out the United Nations’ mission, and for the relationship between the United Nations and the Organization to become a model of complementarity for the world body’s action and that of regional organizations.


HABIB MANSOUR ( Tunisia) said that regional organizations should be integrated into the work of the United Nations as full partners.  Regional cooperation was part of the process of revitalizing the world body and of realizing development goals, particularly the Millennium Development Goals.  He noted that the final document of the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit had recommended identifying and adopting measures to strengthen cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations.


Numerous biannual resolutions attested to the value added at many levels by regional organizations.  He also called on regional organizations to strengthen harmonization and cooperation among themselves as they were working for the same ideals of peace, development and dialogue among civilizations.


He noted the expansion of cooperation between the United Nations and the Arab League to include areas relating to development, and, in that context, the July 2008 coordination meeting held in Geneva, which launched a wide range of economic, social, environmental, technical and cultural projects.  The follow-up mechanism established at that meeting was a significant base for building further cooperation, and he hoped that the Secretary-General’s report would include details on how that mechanism would function, and particularly how it would periodically evaluate the status of cooperation.


He further noted the increased cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union over the last two years which had produced progress, particularly in the areas of peace and security, conflict management, conforming to the specific needs of the continent.  He cited the decision to implement a coordination and consultation mechanism between the Security Council and its African Union counterpart, as well as to hold regular joint meetings of those bodies, as evidence that their structured, targeted and coordinated cooperation would contribute to Africa’s capacity to prevent, maintain and consolidate peace.  He then drew attention to the no less important need for cooperation in supporting national, sub-regional and regional efforts for economic and social development, particularly in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.


He expressed satisfaction at the consolidation of cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference on economic, political, social and humanitarian matters.  He called particular attention to the international Conference on Terrorism:  dimensions, threats and counter-measures, organized by the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Tunis in 2007, which had identified solutions, recommended courses of action and dispelled many misunderstandings and erroneous perceptions of Islam.  That was an illustration of how cooperation could create a common understanding on subjects that appeared controversial, he added.


Noting the depth of the relationship between the United Nations and regional and other organizations, and the steadily increasing levels of cooperation between them, MAGED ABDEL AZIZ (Egypt) welcomed the growing cooperation between United Nations bodies and its specialized agencies, as well as with the African Union in areas ranging from peace and security, holding of elections, peacekeeping, disarmament, and the development of industries to the provision of food.  On development, he said stronger cooperation on both sides was necessary, especially in the face of exceptional crises worldwide regarding high food and energy prices, turmoil in financial markets, and climate change, which would most deeply affect Africa.


Turning to international peace and security, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s consideration of an initiative for a committee of experts on financing for the African Union’s peacekeeping operations.  He encouraged the strengthening of cooperation between the Security Council and the African Council for Peace and Security, so that Africa could contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in other regions of the world.  He also recognized the achievements of the Peacebuilding Commission, and called for strengthening that body’s capacity, including through the provision of financial resources from the United Nations regular budget.


Cooperation between the Organization of the Islamic Conference and United Nations had gained in importance, especially in its efforts to correct the erroneous image of the Islamic world and in deepening means of cooperation amongst all peoples –- regardless of religion.  Such cooperation extended to the fields of culture, education and dialogue among civilizations, cultures and religions, he said, encouraging the organization of seminars and conferences by Member States of both the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to promote a culture of peace.


He went on to say cooperation between the United Nations and League of Arab States was also important because of the United Nations’ leading roles in the pursuit of a peaceful Middle East settlement, in the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East Peace Process, and in the provision of humanitarian care for Palestinian refugees.  He urged implementation of an agreement between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to strengthen institutional links between their secretariats.


On cooperation between the Afro-Asian Legal Consultative Organization and the United Nations, he welcomed consultation between them in the field of international law.  He also noted the growing cooperation between the United Nations and IPU, which illuminated the importance of broadening the base of parliamentary participation in the multilateral international arena.


FRIEDA N. ITHETE ( Namibia) noted that IPU was the natural institutional link between the United Nations and the world of national parliaments, and she was particularly proud to point out that Theo Ben Gurirabe, Speaker of Namibia’s National Assembly, had been elected President of the IPU.  To build strong and successful bridges between United Nations decisions and resolutions and the greater democratization on the Organization, parliaments around the world needed to be engaged with one another.  That translated international commitments into national legislation and polices and aided the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.


She urged Member States to adopt the resolution on “cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union”, which she firmly believed would encourage progress in peace, security, economic and social development, human rights and gender issues, among others, between the two organizations.  In return, IPU’s contribution would support the revitalization of the General Assembly and the reform of the United Nations.  As the Member State that was facilitating the negotiations of the draft resolution, she also took the opportunity to commend Italy on the same work it had done in 2006.


LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said it was increasingly important for the United Nations to enhance its cooperation with other international or regional organizations in the face of the challenges of globalization and myriad other international issues of concern.  He said AALCO was the only influential intergovernmental organization that was composed of Asian and African States and dedicated to addressing legal matters.  AALCO enjoyed good cooperative relations with the United Nations and its relevant organs.


He noted that Asia and Africa had the largest number of developing countries and the biggest population in the world.  Thanks to their efforts over many years, Asian and African countries had achieved enormous progress in political, economic and social fields.  Their status in international affairs had grown markedly, making them an important force for world peace and common development.


As an important platform for exchange and cooperation, AALCO was bound to play an increasingly positive role in enhancing the effective participation by Asian and African states in the democratization of and rule of law in international relations.  He said that China had consistently supported AALCO in its efforts to enhance cooperation and deepen exchanges with the United Nations.


PAUL DADJI (Senegal), associating himself with the Organisation of Islamic Conference, and as Chair of the eleventh session of the OIC summit, remarked on the important role played by regional organizations in dealing with the major issues challenging the global community today, among them, terrorism, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and peacebuilding efforts.  He also noted the cooperation between the United Nations and the Islamic Conference, specifically Ban ki-Moon’s support in Dakar during the signing of the peace agreement between Chad and Sudan, which had been particularly gratifying and encouraging.


Such focus had also been evident in the agenda of the upcoming meeting on Dialogue to be held at the United Nations Headquarters.  However, although the cooperation and collaboration between agencies, Member States and organizations shouted a welcomed dynamism, he hoped such dynamism would go beyond talks and meetings, and translate into a synergy on the ground, offering the OIC’s 2007 food programme as an example.  To further translate the ideas of international meetings into action, Senegal proposed that the United Nations take an active role in the implementation of the programme to provide half a million computers to the poorer countries of the Islamic Conference.  That would aid in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which are the heart of the United Nations priorities.


MILOŠ ALIGRUDIĆ ( Serbia) said his delegation staunchly supported, and was a member of, the United Nations, the OSCE and Council of Europe.  Noting that the importance of achieving the Millennium Development Goals was emphasized at the 2005 third Summit of the Council of Europe, he said challenges, including terrorism, required the United Nations and the Council to intensify their cooperation.


He said Serbia strongly supported the Council’s work to promote respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Kosovo and Metohija, the Serbian province under United Nations administration.  He also supported the Council’s work to implement international standards, notably with respect to non-Albanian communities.  All such activities must be implemented in strict observance of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).


Recalling the 2004 agreement on technical arrangements within the Council’s framework convention for protecting human rights and national minorities, he said it was vital to take appropriate measures contained in the conclusions of the resolution adopted at the 2006 Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.  It was equally important to proceed on the 2007 letter of the Advisory Committee on the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention to the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Kosovo and Metohija.  The 2007 visit by the experts of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture to prison units in Kosovo and Metohija was “eloquent” proof that cooperation with global organizations was needed.


On the question of refugees, he urged intensifying cooperation between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and OSCE, with full implementation of the Sarajevo Declaration.  Fully supporting the OSCE Mission in Kosovo and Metohija, he said it was particularly important for that mission not to facilitate the building of institutions that declared unilateral independence of that province.  He expected the Mission to become increasingly engaged with the security and status of non-Albanian ethnic communities, and support Serbia’s proposal to establish new municipalities that would reduce the isolation of people living in enclaves.


Finally, he said the Mission should support the protection of property of discriminated ethnic communities, and invest in other efforts to improve the judiciary situation in Kosovo and Metohija.


TERRY DAVIS, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, said both recession and terrorism caused insecurity and fear.  As such, there was a greater need for justice, solidarity, tolerance and mutual respect among people.  With that truth in mind, the General Assembly 60 years ago, had adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and, in addition, the Council of Europe had been established.  He hoped the draft resolution before the Assembly today on cooperation between the United Nations and Council of Europe would receive the broadest possible support, as it reflected the Council’s work to promote values and ideals common to all.


The United Nations was an invaluable partner, and its cooperation was meaningful, he continued.  The resolution referred to activities, standards and objectives, about which his delegation felt very strongly.  Some were universally accepted; others, less so, but they were included to “inspire dialogue, not to dictate”.


The death penalty was among the most inhumane and degrading forms of punishment, he explained.  Only one European country used the death penalty, and he looked forward to its abolition.  The Council did not seek to impose its values on the rest of the world, and recognized that it was only one part of the world.  “We are proud of our values; but not too proud to admit that we can learn from other continents”, he said.  In short, he wished to work with the United Nations to change the world.


MOUSSA MAKAN CAMARA, Permanent Observer of the International Organization of la Francophonie, speaking on behalf of the Council’s Secretary-General, highlighted his organization’s cooperation in areas of early warning, preventive diplomacy, and strengthening the peacekeeping capacity of French-speaking countries.  Electoral observation missions contributed to accelerating the ratification of instruments like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, he added.


He regretted that the French-speaking community had been hit by global crises, and his delegation would work to solve them, in line with sovereignty of States. Further, the Council would redouble efforts to ensure the rule of law, and work to implement the Ouagadougou Accord in Côte d’Ivoire, among others, and encourage inclusive political dialogue in the Central African Republic.


Recalling that the Quebec Summit -- the first forum to meet after the financial crisis -- had called for financial system reform, he said that such reform must take into account all regions’ concerns.  On climate change, he reiterated support for the United Nations Framework Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and Bali Plan of Action.  His delegation would work to reduce emissions by 50 per cent by 2050, and seek a consensus on quantifiable targets.


He was particularly sensitive to the status of languages, and the Secretary-General had delivered various speeches, which took into account the full diversity of the global community.  He expressed his readiness to support the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, who was in charge of multilingualism.  In closing, he saluted all those “behind their computer keyboards” -– editors, proofreaders and interpreters -- without whom conferences would not be multilingual.  Indeed, they restored the United Nations’ linguistic diversity.


NARINDER SINGH of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO), said his organization supported the 2005 World Summit outcome, which recognized that many of today’s threats had no national boundaries, were interlinked, and should be tackled on global, regional and national levels, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law.  She noted AALCO’s promotion of Asian-African cooperation on legal matters during the past 52 years and said the organization had grown to include 47 Member States with two Observers.


In the progressive development and codification of international law, AALCO complemented the work of the United Nations, she said, adding that it provided many Asian and African countries with the chance to strengthen the rule of law in international relations, undertook studies of relevant international legal issues, and, in conjunction with the United Nations, harmonized the positions of Asian and African countries in the legal arena.


In AALCO’s 2007 and 2008 sessions, and during its biennium, its agenda items complemented those of the United Nations, namely regarding work of the International Law Commission, on the Law of the Sea, and the Status and Treatment of Refugees.  Some AALCO agenda items were pertinent to United Nations mandates, such as durable solutions to refugee problems, as well as a possible upcoming workshop on countering terrorism, and a model legislation against human trafficking which is almost completed.


An annual training course on general international law would be launched by AALCO to assist in the teaching, study, dissemination and wider appreciation of international law in the Asian-African region.  It was hoped that support from relevant United Nations bodies such as the United Nations University and United Nations Institute for Training and Research would help strengthen their programme.


ANDERS JOHNSSON, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) delivered remarks on behalf of the President of IPU and the former President of the General Assembly, Theo Ben Gurirab of Namibia, who looked forward to strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and IPU, a collaboration that over the last two years had grown substantially and had broadened to cover many issues and subjects, among them, development, finance and trade, gender and human rights, and democracy.


He recalled the ambitious resolution between the two organizations in 2006, which had urged IPU to take an active role with the newly established United Nations bodies such as the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, among others.  IPU had begun to work closely with the Peacebuilding Commission, building on the foundation that lasting peace grew out of strong institutions of good governance, especially a strong parliament where political parties from all sides could forge a consensus on national development objectives.  “At the risk of stating the obvious, I will add that democracy will not flourish in [a] country where the parliament is neglected,” he stated.


He further noted the work of the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review of the fulfilment of human rights obligations and commitments by Member States, and observed that, as he spoke, members of the parliamentary human rights bodies were meeting at IPU Headquarters in Geneva to develop a programme of action of parliamentary participation in the Universal Periodic Review which focused on deeper involvement by parliaments in the international human rights monitoring and follow-up mechanism.


In pointing out that the newly elected President of IPU had been the President of the General Assembly during the drafting of the Millennium Declaration, he stated Mr. Ben Gurirab’s commitment to redouble efforts towards that, as well advancing last year’s campaign to build political momentum to address climate change.


Last week, the General Assembly had held an interactive panel on the global financial crisis.  However, two weeks earlier, members of the 154 parliaments represented in IPU had held a similar debate, where a resolution had been adopted for a global and multilateral response to a crisis that extended beyond the financial arena.  In that resolution, transparency and accountability were part of the safeguards parliaments around the world needed to incorporate into preparation for any future crises that might arise.  To further that initiative, a global parliamentary conference would be organized to examine the causes of the crisis and seek solutions.


In closing, he reminded the Assembly that a strengthened relationship between the United Nations and IPU would support the democratization of the General Assembly and greater coherence in the work between the organizations.  A regular exchange between the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) and the senior leadership of IPU would ensure that happening, he added.


LEONIDAS CHRYSANTHOPOULOS, Secretary General of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) said that, in its 16 years, his organization had become a forum for discussion and cooperation in energy, transport, trade, economic development, environment, tourism, culture, education, science, technology, disaster prevention and mitigation, organized crime, terrorism and many other areas, within an extensive institutional framework.  Major projects included the Black Sea Ring Highway and the Motorways of the Sea.


He described the many areas of cooperation his organization had with the United Nations system.  It had been granted both observer status and an official working relationship with the Organization through General Assembly resolutions 54/5 and 55/211, respectively.  For example, it partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on economic integration and intraregional trade, and with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on combating trafficking in persons.


He expressed appreciation for the Secretary-General’s recommendations on further cooperation between BSEC and the United Nations.  In addition, he said that a new period of enhanced relations between BSEC and the European Union was under way, and at their most recent summit the Heads of State and Government of BSEC member States had reaffirmed their commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.


His organization was addressing the financial and food crises, he said, and wished to increase respect and understanding among nations and peoples of different cultures.  For the latter purpose, it had established exploratory contacts with the Alliance of Civilizations.  He appealed to the Assembly to adopt the draft resolution now before them, which would give new impetus to BSEC’s cooperation with the United Nations and its specialized agencies.


YAHA MAHMASSANI, Permanent Observer, League of Arab States, noted joint projects with the United Nations on environmental, social, cultural and technological concerns, and said capacity-building was a useful mechanism for following up resolutions.  He encouraged bolstering the institutional ties between its two Secretariats, and learning from both organizations’ expertise which would lead to better conflict prevention efforts.


He also expressed support for the settlement of the issues concerning Lebanon and Iraq, in addition to regional dialogue.  The League had cooperated closely with the United Nations on those issues, as well as on several projects, which included commerce, investment, water, and achievement of Millennium Development Goals, in addition to furthering industrial development.  Important current projects included implementation of sustainable development in the Arab region, and a global environmental program.


On the League’s cooperation efforts with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, he said that a capacity building project had been implemented, which had included an evaluation of Millennium Development Goals achievement strategies for the Arab region.  With an Asian regional office of UNDP, Department of Economic and Social Affairs had organized regional meetings on regional consumption patterns, among other matters, and had focused on the importance of cooperation and need to build confidence and reliance for the purposes of peaceful coexistence and human dignity, he added.


Pledging to intensify efforts to work with the United Nations, he stressed the League of Arab States’ keen intentions on continuing discussions in the search for the fullest possible implementations of United Nations resolutions -– including the areas of disarmament, terrorism, as well as towards peaceful conflict resolution and a just and lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.  He said the Arab League was committed to the strengthening of entrenched cooperation in the face of ongoing dangers faced by the international community, for global peace and security, with a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.


Action on Draft Resolutions


The Assembly then adopted by consensus resolutions on the Cooperation between the United Nations and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (document A/63/L.7); Cooperation between the United Nations and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (document A/63/L.9); and Cooperation between the United Nations and the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (document A/63/L.10).


The Assembly also adopted by a recorded vote of 64 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions, the draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (document A/63/L.11).  (For voting details, please see Annex)


The Assembly then adopted by consensus draft resolutions on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe (document A/63/L.12) and Cooperation between the United Nations and the Eurasian Economic Community (document A/63/L.13).


Speaking after action, the representative of Belarus welcomed the cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe, saying that the draft resolution paid tribute to the advancement of human rights, including in the trade of human beings.  He was happy to see mention of the entry into force of a treaty on that issue.  However, the list of signatures on that important document, and other Council treaties on combating crime, was limited to Council members.  Not all States that were interested in contributing to that convention had access to mechanisms to do so.  One way to foster cooperation in combating trade trafficking in persons would be to adopt a global plan of action, he said, noting the Palermo Protocol.


Statements on Holocaust Remembrance


Recalling the deafening silence that had prevailed worldwide during the Holocaust and stating that its lessons were as real today as they were 70 years ago, CHERYL HALPERN (United States) said that though tyrants learned that the world had the capacity to stand by and “let evil flourish”, the international community had, nevertheless, also learned its lessons.  Passage of Assembly resolution 60/7 three years ago had established a new course of international action to memorialize Holocaust victims, and to confront today’s threats of genocide.


Though the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations outreach programme was welcomed, efforts were still needed to educate, conduct outreach and assist generations to free themselves from bonds of hatred.  To that end, she commended outreach by way of creative platforms such as seminars and round tables, online educational curricula and exhibits that reached a broad spectrum of societies as being “indispensable” in educating young people today to dangers of hatred and bigotry, as well as the horrible capacity of what humans could do to each other.


For its part, the United States had participated in outreach programmes by contributing resources and the talents of educators and filmmakers, as well as foundations and museums, most notably the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which had been an active partner in relevant United Nations programmes.  The same issues behind State-sponsored hatred and intolerance evidenced in the Holocaust were just as dangerous today, she said, and the dignity of each individual must be respected and protected to prevent future acts of genocide.  She noted Iran’s “unacceptable and unconscionable” denial of the Holocaust, despite resolution 60/7, and pointed to that example as a reason for the importance of the outreach programme, an essential mission to which the United States expressed continued support.


GABRIELA SHALEV ( Israel) noted that, a week from today, the United Nations would mark the seventieth anniversary of “Kristallnacht”, the night of broken glass that heralded the beginning of the Holocaust and the “Final Solution of Jews”.  That commemoration, one of many activities from the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, had been launched following adoption of resolution 60/7, an historic acknowledgement by the United Nations of the tragedy that befell the Jewish people during World War II.  In establishing that resolution and outreach programme, all people, cultures and nations, who also suffered from Nazi atrocities, could be honoured.  She quoted Elie Weisel, who had said, “Not every victim was Jewish, but all Jews were victims.”


She stated Israel’s hope that the Outreach Programme would not only mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education but, in doing so, would prevent future acts of genocide.  She offered thanks to the General Assembly for adopting, unanimously, the resolution regarding Holocaust remembrance, and expressed the hope that such remembrance would become a dynamic and ongoing effort in adapting the lessons learned from the Nazi genocide into the challenges and threats of today’s world.  However, in closing, she reminded the Assembly, especially in light of a Member State denying the Holocaust from the podium and calling for the destruction of another Member State, that “The Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers.  That is where it ended.  The Nazi Holocaust began with the dangerous words of men.”


VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) recalling with grief the terrible crimes of Nazis, said his country remembered victims of the Holocaust, half of whom had been Soviet citizens.  The Holocaust was a tragedy for humankind as a whole, and both present and future generations would need to understand who had encouraged such crimes.  He was worried about pro-Nazi tendencies in some countries, and paid tribute to the soldiers who helped to free peoples from slavery at such camps as Auschwitz.


There had been attempts to cynically rewrite history, he explained, noting that monuments to fascism had been set up, and those directly involved in carrying out crimes of fascism had been celebrated as freedom fighters.  Such an approach was an insult to the memory of all people, including those who combated fascism.


With Nazis having been overcome, he urged vigilance in the face of attempts to perpetuate the ideology that had given rise to the Holocaust.  In that connection, the Russian Federation had submitted a resolution on the unacceptability of practices that had led to slavery and racism, among other acts.  He called on all States to support that initiative.  History had condemned national socialism.  The crimes of fascism were a threat to those who had forgotten the crimes of World War II.


JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, remarked that, like the United Nations, the European Union had also risen from the ruins of World War II and the Holocaust.  That foundation, now 60 years past, represented the unity of a very diverse European continent, which had consolidated peace, established security, developed prosperity and rebuilt itself not to forget the Holocaust but to keep its memory and the responsibility for the survivors and their descendents at the core of its entire reconciliation process.


Supporting the adoption of resolution 60/7, which honoured the memories of all Holocaust victims, he said that action had also shown a common commitment of the international community to do its utmost in preventing the occurrence of such tragedies ever again.  However, it was painfully obviously that that lesson was still not being heard or learned, and even while the United Nations affirmed its condemnation of the Holocaust, there were still some who claimed the Holocaust never happened.  Thus the Outreach Programme was essential to guarantee not only the memory of what happened but to mobilize civil society, world-renowned institutions and Holocaust experts so that the “reality and fact” of the atrocities of the past could be shared around the world.  In light of the aging and smaller numbers of survivors, that programme would challenge the denial of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of political, ethnic or religious intolerance.


GERHARD PFANZELTER ( Austria) said that as Chair of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, his delegation was grateful for work carried out by the Outreach Programme.  That work was based on the 2000 Stockholm Declaration, which had featured the quest for mutual understanding as among the Holocaust’s most important lessons.  Task Force working groups functioned as a unique network of global cooperation, and the programme’s efforts to mobilize support for Holocaust memorials had contributed to the culture of remembrance.


By its very nature, the Task Force was concerned about tendencies to diminish or deny the Holocaust, and it carried out its mission beyond the geographic range of its 25 Member States, he said.  Gaining knowledge about the Holocaust called for broader communication strategies aimed at having Holocaust remembrance generally accepted as part of human rights education.  Among the goals of the Task Force was to improve media outreach, and the programme had made tools accessible for the public.  It also sought cooperation with other organizations pursuing similar objectives.


JOHN MCNEE ( Canada), recalling the attempted extermination of the Jewish people as a crime against humanity, said that the prevention of genocide was the international community’s fundamental responsibility.  The eradication of discrimination and intolerance “in its many manifestations” was central to that task.  He noted the United Nations Department of Public Information’s energy and dedication in implementing resolution 60/7 (2005), saying its “impressive” list of activities undertaken since then, including initiatives that had commemorated the end of the Holocaust, network building, academic seminars and civil society engagement, were encouraging and boded well for future action.


He went on to welcome the participation of many civil society organizations and artists, and their efforts to ensure that the Holocaust was never forgotten.  A Toronto-based multinational group of children had joined in that effort by performing poems from the Canadian Terezin Ghetto, in the United Nations lobby in 2007.  Other Canadian initiatives to educate about the Holocaust included the establishment of the annual Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Day, archival collections available for education and research, along with funding for Holocaust-related memorials, education centres and museums throughout Canada.


Applauding the fact that Department of Public Information had used the entire United Nations network to warn against the consequences of anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination, and impressed by the many events and countries contained in the report, he encouraged the dissemination of that message to parts of the world without United Nations Information Centres, with national governments’ assistance.  In concluding remarks, he urged Member States to reject any denial of the occurrence of the Holocaust, in accordance with resolution 61/255 (2007).


ROBERT HILL ( Australia) said his country considered the genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people during the Holocaust as the most abhorrent of crimes.  Indeed, the Holocaust showed the depths to which humankind could descend, and it was a sad fact that anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, racism and religious intolerance continued today.


Commending the United Nations Outreach Programme, he said that initiative, since its establishment in 2006, had worked to actively meet the aims of resolution 60/7 on Holocaust Remembrance, including through educational activities and media outreach.  Raising awareness about the Holocaust had served as a reminder of the need for vigilance and taking steps to prevent such a horror from happening again.


ALFRED NDABARASA ( Rwanda) noted that remembrance of the Holocaust served to commemorate the victims, educate a generation of young people about genocide and raise awareness across the broader public, thus urging people to use their voices to challenge society values.


As a country that knew the horrors of genocide, Rwanda fully appreciated the significance of remembrance, and the role it played in reconciliation and prevention of future genocides.  He commended the Department of Public Information and its stakeholders for creating the programme of outreach on the “Holocaust and the United Nations”, to disseminate, to as wide an audience as possible, the lessons from both the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda.


In remembering Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, he very much appreciated the work of other organizations, which had created programs on genocide.  Visibility was essential to deterring future horrors and, as “deterrence is still a practice in our world”, was much needed in the international arena.


Right of Reply


Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran rejected the “baseless assertions” against his country, and condemned the misuse of the Assembly to advance political goals.  Iran had continued to condemn genocide against any race as a crime against humanity, and reiterated that unambiguous view today.  There was no justification for genocide of any kind.


Discussing the Israeli regime, he noted with serious concern that the global community should not neglect to address that certain media outlets had resorted to a campaign of misinformation against those that had called for a thorough examination of incidents.


ANNEX


Vote on Cooperation with Preparatory Commission for CTBTO


The draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (document A/63/L.11) was adopted by a recorded vote of 64 in favour to 1 against, with no abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Myanmar, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen, Zambia.


Against:  United States.


Abstain:  None.


Absent:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe.


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For information media • not an official record