15 April 2010
General Assembly

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

Sixty-fourth General Assembly


82nd Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Pays Solemn Tribute to Polish President Killed in Plane Crash;

Also Acts on Several Texts, Fills Vacancies on Two Subsidiary Bodies

Adopts Decolonization Report, Texts on Organization of Work, Mother Earth Day;

Elects Members to Trade Commission, Notes Appointments to Committee on Conferences

The General Assembly, meeting today to act on a number of outstanding resolutions and make appointments to two of its subsidiary bodies, also paid solemn tribute to Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who was killed along with his wife and 94 others in a high-level military and civilian delegation, when the presidential plane crashed on landing outside the western Russian city of Smolensk.

Requesting the 192-member body to stand in moment of silence, Assembly Vice-President Christopher Fitzherbert Hackett (Barbados) requested the representative of Poland to convey the world body’s condolences to the Government and people of Poland and to the bereaved family of President Kaczynski and to the families of all those who had perished.

Unanimously adopting the Report of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/64/696), the Assembly decided to increase the Committee’s membership from 28 to 29 and appointed Nicaragua as its twenty-ninth member.

The representative of Cuba welcomed the decision to elect Nicaragua as a member, which, he said, was proof of the Committee’s relevance for Latin America and the Caribbean.  He noted that although 2010 would mark the end of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010), many of the agreed upon goals still remained to be attained. 

The Assembly also adopted by consensus a draft resolution contained in document A/64/L.49 on its organization of work, setting the dates and times for its General Debate for the sixty-fifth session, as well as the dates for a high-level review addressing the vulnerabilities of small island developing States and for a high-level meeting as a contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity.

According to the resolution’s text, the general debate will be held from Thursday, 23 September, to Saturday, 25 September, and from Monday, 27 September, to Thursday, 30 September.

The two-day high-level meeting to review the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States is scheduled from Friday, 24 September, to Saturday, 25 September.

The high-level meeting as a contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity is scheduled for Wednesday, 22 September.

By unanimously adopting a draft decision contained in document A/64/L.51, the Assembly will convene a special meeting to mark the first anniversary of the International Day of Mother Earth on 22 April.

The Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ahmed Djoghlaf, said the adoption was a historic decision, as it would be the first time that a United Nations Heads of States summit would address biological diversity.  On 22 September, a new era in the relation between man and nature would begin.

In further action, the Assembly elected Botswana and Paraguay members of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law for a six-year term of office beginning on 21 June.

The Assembly also took note of the President’s decision to appoint Nigeria, Panama and Venezuela members of the Committee on Conferences for a period of three years beginning on 1 January 2010.

During the Assembly’s solemn tribute, Albania’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Eastern European States, said the plane crash had robbed Poland, Eastern Europe and the world of “some of its brightest minds and most dedicated public servants”.  He said President Kaczynski would be remembered for three decades of outstanding political service and as one of the world’s foremost opponents of totalitarianism.  While the people of Poland had felt the shock of the loss, he hoped that, with resilience and strength, they would be able to overcome “this exceptionally tragic moment”.

Also paying tribute to the President’s memory were the representatives of Cape Verde (on behalf of the African States); Bahrain (on behalf of the Asian States); Paraguay (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States); Andorra (on behalf of the Western European and other States); and the United States (representing the Host Country).

In his first address as Poland’s new Ambassador to the United Nations, Witold Sobkow thanked the members of the Assembly for their heartfelt tribute, as well as the people and Government of the Russian Federation, who had not only shared in Poland’s grief, but who had immediately moved to assist in the search and rescue effort. 

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

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For information media • not an official record