17 November 2009
General Assembly
GA/EF/3269

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

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Second Committee

35th Meeting (PM)


Second Committee Approves Text Reiterating General Assembly’s Deep Concern


at Oil Slick Arising from Israel’s Destruction of Lebanese Storage Tanks


Drafts on Sustainable Development, Operational Activities also Passed


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved three draft resolutions today, including a text by which the General Assembly would reiterate its deep concern over the destruction by the Israeli Air Force of oil storage tanks near Lebanon’s El-Jiyeh electric power plant due to the adverse implications for sustainable development in that country.


By other terms of that text -– approved by a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Fiji, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 3 abstentions (Cameroon, Colombia, Panama) -– the Assembly would request that Israel assume responsibility for expedient and adequate compensation to Lebanon, as well as to Syria, whose shores had been partially polluted.  The compensation should pay for the cost of restoring the marine environment and repairing environmental damage.  (See annex for details of the voting.)


The Assembly would also, by further terms of the draft, reaffirm its decision to establish an Eastern Mediterranean Oil Spill Restoration Trust Fund that would provide assistance to States directly affected, from clean-up to safe disposal of oily waste, and request that the Secretary-General work towards implementing that decision before the end of the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session.


Speaking before the vote, Israel’s representative described the text as politicized and anti-Israeli.  It did not accurately depict the real issues on the ground nor mention the 500,000 trees and 52,000 dunams of Israeli forests burnt as a result of rockets launched into Israel by Hizbullah across an internationally recognized border.


Lebanon’s representative refuted Israel’s contention that the Committee was not the right platform to address the issue, emphasizing that the damage that the oil slick had caused to Lebanese shores and marine life was significant.  Lebanon had received only $15 million, a fraction of what it would cost to clean up the oil slick.  He also urged the Secretary-General to establish the mechanism under which the proposed Trust Fund would operate.


In other action, the Committee approved two draft resolutions without a vote.  A text titled “Reports of the Executive Boards of the United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Food Programme” would have the Assembly decide that the Secretariat of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) continue to be headed by an Executive Director at the Under-Secretary-General level.  Its Executive Director would be appointed by the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNFPA for a four-year term.


By the terms of the second text, on operational activities for development, the Assembly would take note of several reports, including the Secretary-General’s report on the comprehensive statistical analysis of the financing of operational activities for development of the United Nations system for 2007; the report on activities of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM); and the report of the Joint Inspection Unit on national execution of technical cooperation projects.


Further by that text, the Assembly would take note of Economic and Social Council decision 2009/214 on operational activities for development, and request that the Secretary-General postpone, until the Council’s sixty-seventh session, the submission of the comprehensive analysis of implementing Assembly resolution 62/208, to be prepared in accordance with guidance in paragraph 143.


Also during the meeting, Sudan’s representative (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China) introduced five draft resolutions under the Committee’s agenda items on sustainable development, globalization and interdependence, and eradication of poverty and other development issues.


The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Friday 20 November, to take action on outstanding draft resolutions.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this afternoon to take action on draft resolutions relating to sustainable development and operational activities for development.


Introduction of Draft Resolutions


The representative of Sudan, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, introduced five draft resolutions at the outset of the meeting: Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (document A/C.2/64/L.36); Promotion of new and renewable sources of energy (document A/C.2/64/L.33); Globalization and interdependence:  Preventing and combating corrupt practices and transfer of assets of illicit origin and returning such assets, in particular to the countries of origin, consistent with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (document A/C.2/64/L.37); Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017) (document A/C.2.64/L.38); and Human resources development (document A/C.2/64/L.34).


Action on Draft Resolutions


As the Committee prepared to take action on a draft resolution titled Oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/C.2/64/L.20), the representative of Israel, speaking in explanation of position before the vote, said the text politicized the issue at hand and was part of an effort to institutionalize an anti-Israeli narrative within the United Nations.  “This resolution fails the test of honesty and even-handedness, as it cherry picks information while it omits crucial language and context.”  It excluded any reference to the context of the conflict, namely the armed attack launched by Hizbullah across an internationally recognized border, and failed to acknowledge that if the Lebanese State exercised control over its territory, Hizbullah could not operate as a terrorist entity.


Furthermore, he continued, while the draft resolution was allegedly concerned with the environmental damage arising from the 2006 war, it made no mention of the 500,000 trees and 52,000 dunams of forests in Israel burnt as a result of Hizbullah’s rocket attacks.  It also ignored Israel’s extensive cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), other agencies of the Organization and non-governmental organizations to assess the environmental situation of Lebanon’s coastline.  The text was one-sided, detached from the reality of the region and failed to address the real issues on the ground.


The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Fiji, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 3 abstentions (Cameroon, Colombia, Panama).  (See Annex for voting details.)


Immediately after that action, the representative of Lebanon said the destruction of the oil storage tanks near the El-Jiyeh power plant had caused significant damage to Lebanese shores and marine life, and the country had received only $15 million, a fraction of what it would cost to clean up the oil slick.  Consequently, several sites were still contaminated, as had been found in a comprehensive survey undertaken last year.


Lebanon attached great importance to the continuing support of the international community as it concerned the oil slick problem, he said, thanking the Secretary-General for his efforts to establish a Trust Fund to assist States affected by the oil spill.  Lebanon urged the Secretary-General to implement the mechanism under which the Fund would operate.  Finally, he refuted Israel’s contention that the time was not right nor the Committee the correct platform to address the issue.  The history of the last 50 years had shown Israel’s tendency of aggression towards its neighbours.


The Committee then approved, without a vote, two draft resolutions on operational activities for development.  The first was a text titled “Reports of the Executive Boards of the United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Food Programme” (document A/C.2/64/L.6) and the second “Operational activities for development of the United Nations system” (document A/C.2/64/L.35).


ANNEX


The draft resolution on the oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/C.2/64/L.20) was approved by a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 8 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:


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


Against:  Australia, Canada, Fiji, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States.


Abstain:  Cameroon, Colombia, Panama.


Absent:  Angola, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Honduras, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Micronesia (Federated States of), Niger, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, United Republic of Tanzania.


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