3 May 2011
General Assembly
GA/11079/Rev. 1*

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

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Plenary

88th Meeting (AM)


General Assembly, in Recorded Vote, Adopts Resolution Granting European Union

 

Right of Reply, Ability to Present Oral Amendments

 


Delegates Also Designate 30 July International Day of Friendship


Recognizing the importance of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, as well as its benefits to the world body, the General Assembly today adopted a set of modalities granting the delegation of the European Union the right to make interventions, as well as the right of reply and the ability to present oral proposals and amendments.


By the terms of the resolution — adopted as orally revised by a recorded vote of 180 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Syria, Zimbabwe) — the European Union and its member States could be inscribed on the list of speakers among representatives of major groups and be invited to participate in the Assembly’s general debate, in accordance with the order of precedence and the level of representation.  (For details of the vote, see Annex II)


Also by the text, representatives of the European Union would be ensured seating among the observers without the right to vote, co-sponsor resolutions or decisions, nor put forward candidates.  Its communications relating to the Assembly’s sessions and work, as well as to international meetings convened under its auspices and United Nations conferences, would now be circulated directly and without intermediary as documents of such gatherings.  The European Union would be able to present oral proposals and amendments, which, however, would be put to a vote only at the request of a Member State.  The bloc would have the ability to exercise the right of reply, restricted to one intervention per item.


In another action, the Assembly rejected — by a recorded vote of 142 against to 6 in favour (Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe), with 20 abstentions — a “counter” amendment to the text regarding the right of reply.  (See Annex I)


Presenting the oral amendment, Zimbabwe’s representative expressed concern that, while the Assembly was an intergovernmental body whose membership was limited to Member States, the text as a whole threatened to undermine the Organization, however stealthily, by creating a new category of observer.


Hungary’s representative, submitting the draft resolution on behalf of the European Union and reading out a number of oral revisions, said it was the product of extensive consultations among a broad spectrum of Member States, held following the Assembly’s vote on 14 September 2010 to defer consideration of the original text outlining the bloc’s expanded rights.  (See Press Release GA/10983)


“In no way do they increase the Union’s capacity for action,” he said, stressing that those rights were fully respectful of the position of intergovernmental organizations.  The resolution’s purpose, he assured other delegations, was to allow the bloc’s representative to intervene on behalf of its member States alongside representatives of other major groups.


As he would throughout the lively debate surrounding the resolution’s adoption, he affirmed that the United Nations was and should remain an organization of States, while the European Union would remain an observer in the General Assembly.  Moreover, the assurances granted to the regional body would not affect negatively the ability of any State to address the United Nations, he said.


Pointing out that earlier references to the Lisbon Treaty had been removed — thereby placing the focus squarely on the United Nations — he said the resolution explicitly recognized the possibility that the Assembly might decide, on an individual basis, to adopt modalities for the participation of representatives from other regional organizations.


Speaking before the vote, a number of delegates from regional groups welcomed the many improvements to the text, saying they would support the now-acceptable resolution.  Many of them — including the representatives of the Bahamas (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Nigeria (on behalf of the African Union) and Sudan (on behalf of the Arab Group) — said they considered the text to be a precedent, with one delegate voicing the expectation that the European Union would support requests for similar rights by other regional groups.


Nauru’s representative, who ultimately did not vote, said she saw “serious risks” that the resolution would change the nature of the United Nations to the detriment of small States that did not enjoy the political and economic influence of large developed countries.  Nauru did not share the view of the European Union, supported by the Office of Legal Affairs, that the draft raised no legal issues and was consistent with the United Nations Charter and Rules of Procedure.


Describing the privileges granted to the Holy See as a non-Member State and Palestine as a non-member entity as “distinguishable”, she said the European Union, as an intergovernmental organization, was a completely different type of observer and legal entity from the other two.  Granting another observer the right of reply could be interpreted as rewriting the Rules of Procedure, she emphasized, adding that Nauru did not consider that a prudent way for the Assembly to conduct its business.


Among her other concerns was the resolution’s potential to undermine the intergovernmental nature of the United Nations and its possible impact on the Charter’s safeguards under Article 2, on the sovereign equality of all Member States.  Nauru feared that by contemplating the conferring of additional rights on other regional organizations enjoying observer status, the text would also set a precedent, she added.  In a similar vein, Malaysia’s representative, speaking after the vote, agreed that “change is brewing” regarding the chances of other regional groups to gain observer status.


However, the representative of the Bahamas outlined the Caribbean Community’s interpretation of the resolution, noting in particular the restrictions placed on the European Union’s new status.  The “full and exhaustive list of rights” afforded the bloc and did not grant it a path to full United Nations membership, she stressed.


Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, spoke after the adoption, thanking delegations for their extraordinary efforts to get the resolution into the “best possible shape”.  With its adoption, she added, “what you will hear is a clearer voice from the European Union.”


The Assembly Secretary reported before the vote that under operative paragraph 2 of the resolution, additional financial requirements amounting to $10,000 would be required for the installation of the necessary delegate units, including sound engineering work.  Although no provision had been made for such alterations in the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011, the Secretariat would seek to identify where funds could be redeployed.


Also today, the Assembly designated 30 July as the International Day of Friendship and invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, to observe it in an appropriate manner, in accordance with the culture and other appropriate circumstances or customs of their local, national and regional communities.


Paraguay’s representative introduced the text on the International Day of Friendship.


In other business, the Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s correspondence with the Assembly President, which indicated that Kyrgyzstan had made the necessary payment to reduce its arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the Charter.


Other speakers today were representatives of Brazil, Iran, Japan, Cuba, Argentina and Venezuela.


Also making a statement was the Permanent Observer of the Holy See.


The General Assembly will reconvene at time and date to be announced.


ANNEX I


Vote on Oral Amendment


An oral amendment to the draft resolution on the participation of the European Union in the work of the United Nations (document A/65/L.64/Rev.1) was rejected by a recorded vote of 142 against to 6 in favour, with 20 abstentions, as follows:


Against:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Yemen.


In favour:  Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.


Abstain:  Belarus, Belize, Benin, Burundi, Chad, Djibouti, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Grenada, Guyana, Kenya, Malaysia, Namibia, Nigeria, Philippines, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, Zambia.


Absent:  Azerbaijan, Botswana, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Kiribati, Lesotho, Libya, Myanmar, Nauru, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Turkmenistan, Vanuatu, Viet Nam.


ANNEX II


Vote on European Union Participation


The draft resolution on the participation of the European Union in the work of the United Nations (document A/65/L.64/Rev.1) was adopted by a recorded vote of 180 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia.


Against:  None.


Abstain:  Syria, Zimbabwe.


Absent:  Azerbaijan, Côte d’Ivoire, Kiribati, Libya, Nauru, Rwanda, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu, Venezuela.


* *** *


__________


*     Reissued to correct subject of recorded vote in Annex I.



For information media • not an official record