1 December 2011
General Assembly
GA/EF/3329

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

Second Committee Approves Text Urging Elimination of Unilateral Coercive


Economic Measures against Developing Countries

 


Action on One Draft Resolution Postponed as Members Pass 14 Others


The General Assembly would urge the international community to adopt urgent measures to eliminate the use of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries as they were inconsistent with the principles of international law and the multilateral trading system, according to one of 14 draft resolutions approved by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today.


By other terms of that draft, titled “Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries”, the Assembly would call upon the international community to condemn and reject the imposition of such measures, while requesting that the Secretary-General continue to monitor their imposition and to study their impact on countries and on development.


The Committee approved the text by a recorded vote of 118 in favour to 2 against ( Israel, United States), with 49 abstentions.


Speaking before that action, the representative of the United States said every country had the sovereign right to determine how to conduct trade.  Economic sanctions, whether unilateral or multilateral, could be an effective way to promote political objectives, he said, adding that by adopting the text the General Assembly would limit the world to peaceful responses to threats.


However, Mexico’s representative rejected the unilateral economic blockades, saying they had severe humanitarian effects in violation of international law and the United Nations Charter.  Multilateral diplomacy was the best way to resolve disputes and ensure international peace and security, he said.


Following the vote, Poland’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union had abstained because unilateral economic measures could be useful under certain circumstances, such as preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or upholding democracy and the rule of law.


Taking further actions on draft resolutions within the macroeconomic policy questions its cluster, the Committee approved, without a vote, a draft resolution titled “International financial system and development”, by which the General Assembly would stress the need for decisive action in tackling the challenges confronting the global economy to ensure balanced global growth with productive employment and quality jobs.  Furthermore, it would stress the need to improve standards of corporate and public-sector governance.  It would also reiterate that effective, inclusive multilateral surveillance should be at the centre of crisis-prevention efforts.  The Assembly would, by other terms, encourage enhanced regional and subregional cooperation.


The Committee also approved, without a vote, six drafts under the sustainable development cluster.  They included a text titled “Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America”, by which the Assembly would recognize the need to promote the development of sustainable tourism, in particular through the consumption of sustainable tourism products and services, and to strengthen the development of ecotourism, taking into account the declaration of 2012 as the Year of Sustainable Tourism in Central America, while maintaining the culture and environmental integrity of indigenous and local communities.


By a text on agricultural technology, the General Assembly would urge Member States, relevant United Nations organizations and other stakeholders to strengthen efforts to improve the development of appropriate sustainable agricultural technologies and their transfer, under fair and mutually agreed terms, to developing countries, especially least developed ones.


The Committee approved that draft by a recorded vote of133 in favour to none against, with 35 abstentions.  By other terms, the Assembly would underline the instrumental role of agricultural technology, agricultural research and technology transfer on mutually agreed terms, as well as sharing of knowledge and practices.  It would also encourage efforts to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers in developing countries, in particular rural women, in order to enhance productivity and the nutritional quality of food crops, and to enhance food security.


Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group before the vote, Lebanon’s representative said the Group would abstain because another draft submitted by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China dealt with the same topic.   Israel was in no position to propose such a text as its policies remained in violation of international law, while it continued systematically to undermine agriculture in occupied Arab territories.


Israel’s representative said after the vote that the very countries that had abstained were the ones most in need of agricultural technologies.  Such States were “more concerned with scoring political points than with their own citizens, who could benefit tremendously from agricultural technology”.


The Committee also approved, without a vote, a draft titled “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development”.  It would have the General Assembly reiterate its request that the Secretary-General support the work of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”), as well as the importance of support by the United Nations development system.  It would also urge developed countries and international and bilateral donors to contribute to the trust fund of the Commission on Sustainable Development, in support of the Conference.


Acting again without a vote, the Committee approved a draft on the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.  By its terms, the General Assembly would express its deep concern over the number and scale of natural disasters and the increasing challenges posed by their consequences, as well as the impact of climate change, which impeded progress towards sustainable development, particularly in developing, least developed, landlocked developing and other vulnerable countries.  It would take note with appreciation of the results of the midterm review of the Hyogo Framework of Action 2005-2015, and request the Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction to facilitate a process leading to a post-Hyogo Framework for Action guidance framework.


Approving a draft on implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, also without a vote, the Committee recommended that the General Assembly stress that desertification, land degradation, and drought continued to pose challenges to sustainable development, including food security in developing countries, particularly in Africa.  It would emphasize, in that regard, the need for financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building.


A draft entitled “Promotion of new and renewable sources of energy”, also approved without a vote, would have the General Assembly stress the importance of continuing substantive consideration of the issue promoting new and renewable sources of energy.


Turning to its cluster on Groups of Countries in Special Situations, the Committee approved two draft resolutions, without a vote, respectively titled “Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries”, and “Specific actions related to the particular needs and problems of landlocked developing countries:  Outcome of the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation”.


The General Assembly would stress the need for vigorous, effective and timely implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, in a coordinated and coherent manner, at the national, regional and global levels.  It would also express concern that the ongoing impact of the global economic and financial crisis demonstrated the need to deploy appropriate regional and international support in a timely manner to assist those in need.  It would also express concern that the economic growth and social well-being of landlocked developing countries remained highly vulnerable to external shocks, and invite the international community to help landlocked developing countries strengthen their resilience to such shocks.


The Committee also approved, without a vote, three draft resolutions on the topic of eradication of poverty and other development issues, including one on the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017), by which the Assembly would urge Member States to address the global challenge of youth unemployment and call for the development of a global strategy to counter it.  By other terms, the Assembly would also urge the international community to implement the outcome documents relating to the internationally agreed development goals and outcome of the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, in support of the Second Decade’s objectives.


Under the second text, titled “Women in development”, the Assembly would call upon Member States to recognize the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, and their traditional knowledge, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.  The Assembly would emphasize the need to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women at all levels, and stress the importance of reviewing agricultural policies and strategies to ensure that women’s critical role in food security was recognized and addressed as an integral part of both short- and long-term responses to world food crises.


By the third text, on human resources development, the Assembly would stress the need for Member States to retain and further enhance national human resources by boosting job-rich recovery.  Emphasizing the need to address the interlinkages among human resources development, energy and food security, agriculture and rural development, it would encourage Member States to strengthen capacity in agriculture and rural development, while also stressing that human resources development strategies should include measures to reduce unemployment and underemployment among young men and women affected by job-poor recovery.


The Committee approved, without a vote, a draft resolution titled “Towards global partnerships”, by which the General Assembly would stress that partnerships should be consistent with international law and national development strategies and plans, as well as the priorities of countries where their implementation took place.  It would also call upon the international community to continue to promote multi-stakeholder approaches in addressing the challenges of development in the context of globalization.


Action on a text titled “Sustainable development:  harmony with Nature” was postponed until the Committee’s next meeting.


Addressing the Committee today were representatives of Argentina (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Brazil, Chile, France, Luxembourg, Nepal, Spain, Syria, Sweden and Switzerland.


The Committee will meet at 10 a.m. Friday, 2 December, to take action on outstanding draft proposals.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this afternoon to take action on outstanding draft resolutions relating to macroeconomic policy questions, sustainable development, groups of countries in special situations, eradication of poverty and other development issues, and global partnerships.


Action on Draft Resolutions


As the Committee took up the draft on Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries(document A/C.2/66/L.50), a number of delegations spoke in explanation of position before and after the vote.


The representative of the United States said each State had the right to decide how to conduct its trade policy, and restricting trade was legitimate when deemed necessary.  As part of that strategy, sanctions were a successful means for achieving foreign policy objectives peacefully, and were always applied with specific aims in mind, such as restoring the rule of law and preventing nuclear proliferation or the financing of terrorism.  The draft resolution sought to limit the international community’s means of responding peacefully to threats, he said, adding that his delegation would vote against it.


The representative of Mexico reiterated his delegation’s strong rejection of unilateral coercive economic measures, saying they had no basis in the United Nations Charter.  They had severe human consequences, were in violation of international law and removed diplomacy as a viable channel for seeking resolution.  Emphasizing that Mexico was historically principled in its opposition to sanctions, except those resulting from Security Council decisions, he said multilateralism remained the best way to resolve disputes and ensure peaceful coexistence, adding that his delegation would vote in favour of the draft.


Moving to action, the Committee then approved the text by a recorded vote of 118 in favour to 2 against ( Israel, United States), with 49 abstentions.


The representative of Poland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc had abstained because it considered such measures admissible in certain circumstances, for example, to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or to uphold democracy and the rule of law.  The European Union applied sanctions in addition to using dialogue and other peaceful means, she added.


The representative of Syria said that only certain countries continued to apply sanctions to achieve their interests, which reflected their complete disdain for United Nations resolutions and the right to development.  They simultaneously pretended to respect human rights while trying to teach other States in that field, he said.  The application of such measures amounted to a double standard, as many of the States doing so failed to impose sanctions on Israel or to condemn its blockade against Palestinians.  Additionally, Cuba suffered an inhumane blockade imposed by the United States, which showed that country’s indifference to calls from the international community.  Unilateral measures had resulted in increased unemployment, poverty and negative impacts on the empowerment of women, he said, calling on Member States to reject measures that would result in sanctions while respecting the Charter principle of non-interference.


The Committee then took up the draft on the International financial system and development (document A/C.2/66/L.69), waiving rule 120 of the General Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, since the text had only been circulated this morning.


The representative of France said there were some differences in the French translation.


The representative of Belarus thanked the delegation of the Russian Federation for its help in working on the draft resolution.


The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote, as orally corrected, withdrawing the text contained in document A/C.2/66/L.5.


It then went on to take action on other draft resolutions related to sustainable development.


Prior to action on the draft on Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America (document A/C.2/66/L.37), the representative of Honduras said that Heads of State and Government had decided to support tourism that would promote regional and national identity.  She thanked Spain for hosting a seminar on sustainable tourism, the draft’s co-sponsors, the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the European Union, the United States and Australia, saying they had aided the consensus approval of the text.


The representative of Spain welcomed the efforts made by Honduras in an area of great importance to Central America and which could stimulate the economy in a sustainable manner, promoting jobs for youth, protecting national resources, ensuring respect for national resources and helping to realize the Millennium Development Goals.  Spain would continue to collaborate in building tourism in Central America, he pledged.


The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.


As the Committee took up the draft resolution on Agricultural technology for development (document A/C.2/66/L.41/Rev.1), the representative of Israel expressed hope that it would be approved by consensus and listed a number of additional co-sponsors.


ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh), Committee Chair, said Iraq had requested a recorded vote


The representative of Lebanon, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said it would abstain because the draft covered one aspect of a text submitted by the Group of 77 and China under agenda item 25, which made it unnecessary.  In addition to failing to ensure an effective balance between the needs of developing and developed countries, the draft did not address the question of transferring technology to developing countries, financing or the lifting of obstacles imposed by developed countries on agricultural produce.


Israel undermined and violated United Nations resolutions, describing that country as a Member State without credibility at the United Nations because it undermined the Organization’s Charter, he said.  It should not be allowed to manipulate the world body by exploiting technical matters important to developing countries in order to cover up its behaviour, which contravened the Charter and United Nations resolutions.  Israel continued to follow policies that systematically undermined agriculture in occupied Arab territories.


Many reports submitted under the Committee’s agenda item 61 showed that Israel contradicted basic ethical and legal rules, he said, pointing out that it continued to uproot trees and take fertile soil for its settlements.  The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he continued, had reported on Israeli settlers uprooting, burning and destroying olive trees, which were a staple crop sustaining more than 100,000 Palestinian families.  Its blockade and other restrictions severely undermined the lives of Palestinians and the illegal wall isolated an increasing number of Palestinian farmers, depriving them of land and potable water, while preventing them from farming them.  Fishermen in Gaza were prevented from using more than 80 per cent of Palestinian fishing waters, which had led to the deterioration of conditions in the Gaza Strip.


He also pointed out illegal and unethical practices in the occupied Syrian Golan, which prevented Syrian citizens from practising agriculture through discrimination.  Such measures included restrictions on the use of water, the diversion of water courses to illegal settlements and the imposition of high taxes on agricultural crops for citizens living under occupation.  Israel’s politicization of agricultural development in developing countries was disgraceful, and it was not in favour of what it claimed, he said, adding that the Arab Group would abstain from the vote, and calling on all other States to avoid voting in favour of the draft because it would encourage Israel’s continued occupation and undermining of agriculture.


The Committee then approved the text by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to none against, with 35 abstentions.


The representative of Israel said the draft resolution reaffirmed support for agricultural research and promoted the dissemination of agricultural technologies around the world.  It made clear that it was not enough to help developing nations to acquire new technologies, and also focused heavily on capacity-building, education and the transfer of skills.  While Israel had hoped for consensus, some Member States never missed an opportunity to politicize every issue, as they were “more concerned with scoring political points than with their own citizens, who could benefit tremendously from agricultural technology”.


As the Committee turned to the draft resolution on Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (document A/C.2/66/L.59), its Secretary read out a statement in accordance with rule 153 of the Rules of Procedure.  She said that convening the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and the third session of its Preparatory Committee in Rio de Janeiro would require the Government of Brazil to reimburse the United Nations the actual additional costs directly or indirectly incurred.  That understanding, taken together with absorption efforts made by the Secretary-General, would mean that approving the text would not entail any requirements additional to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.


The representative of Brazil proposed a correction to the draft resolution, saying it paved the way to “ Rio+20”, which was about the future.  The Conference would deliver a strong multilateral solution to sustainable development, he added.


The representative of France said the draft’s French-language version did not take into account the most recent discussions, and pointed out some differences in translation between the French- and English-language versions.


The representative of Argentina, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, emphasized its understanding that the item would remain open to the General Assembly until the Rio+20 Conference.


The Committee then approved the text without a vote, as orally corrected,withdrawing the draft contained in document A/C.2/66/L.30.


The Committee then took up the text on International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (document A/C.2/66/L.64).


The representative of Mexico, as facilitator of informal negotiations, requested an amendment to reflect the consensus reached during discussions, asking that it be reflected in all translations.


The Committee then approved the text without a vote, as orally amended, withdrawing the draft contained in document A/C.2/66/L.27.


The Committee then took up the draft on Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa(document A/C.2/66/L.60), waiving rule 120 since it had only been circulated this morning.


The Committee Secretary said that approval of the text would not entail any additional requirements to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013, on the understanding that the substantive Secretariat would cover travel costs if meetings were to be held outside Bonn.  Any additional meetings not included in the calendar should be funded through extra-budgetary resources.


The Committee then approved the text without a vote, as orally corrected, withdrawing the draft contained in document A/C.2/66/L.44.


It then turned to the draft on Harmony with nature (document A/C.2/66/L.42/Rev.1), postponing action on it until its next meeting.


As it took up the draft resolution on Promotion of new and renewable sources of energy (document A/C.2/66/L.66), the representative of Uzbekistan asked to be added to the list of co-sponsors.


The Committee then approved the text without a vote, as orally corrected, withdrawing the text contained in document A/C.2/66/L.31.


The representative of Switzerland, making a general comment on the working methods of the Committee’s sustainable development cluster, said its work had begun relatively late, but delegates had worked effectively within a brief deadline.  There had been an attempt to biennialize substantive resolutions, which could help to focus on implementation and concentrate more carefully on what was important.  Additionally, many new texts had been introduced, and despite progress, more work was needed, she said.  Certain delegations had only joined the negotiations at the last minute, discussing language that had long since been agreed.  Even if that was not a procedural problem, she said, it posed a question of professional courtesy to those who had been working for a long period.  She suggested biennializing a number of draft resolutions and reducing their overall number.


The representative of the United States expressed agreement with that view.


Turning to groups of countries in special situations, the Committee took up the draft resolution on Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries(document A/C.2/66/L.61).


The Committee Secretary then said an ad hoc working group would study and strengthen the process of ensuring a smooth transition for countries graduating from the least-developed category, but there would be no additional programme budget implications for the 2012-13 biennium.


PHILIPPE DONCKEL ( Luxembourg), Committee Vice-Chair, then proposed some oral amendments, citing deletions and corrections.


The Committee then approved the text without a vote, as orally amended, withdrawing the draft contained in document A/C.2/66/L.8.


The representative of Nepal, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the text was part of the process of implementing the Istanbul Programme of Action and highlighted the need to give particular attention to the needs of least developed countries, emphasizing that approving the draft was not the end of the journey, but the beginning.


The representative of the European Union delegation underlined the bloc’s commitment to helping least developed countries graduate by 2020 and to participate in the ad hoc working group.  He said the Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States should be provided with the support necessary for timely implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action.


The Committee next took up the draft on Specific actions related to the particular needs and problems of landlocked developing countries:  outcome of the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation (document A/C.2/66/L.65).


The Committee Secretary said approval of the text would not entail any additional requirements to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012—2013, while the requirements to service the in 2014 Review Conference and possible meetings of the intergovernmental preparatory committee would be dealt with in the context of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015.


The Committee then approved the text without a vote, withdrawing the text contained in document A/C.2/66/L.14.


It then took up the draft resolution on the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017) (document A/C.2/66/L.67), waiving rule 120 of the Rules of Procedure since the text had only been circulated this morning.


The representative of Germany pointed out some translation mistakes in the Spanish- and French-language versions of a paragraph that had undergone intense discussion.


The Committee Secretary said the General Assembly intended to convene a meeting and preparatory activities at its sixty-eighth session on the issue of poverty eradication.  The Secretary-General would submit details of any financial implications if necessary, she said, pointing out that the Assembly had reaffirmed that the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was the Committee responsible for such matters.


The Committee then approved the text without a vote, as orally corrected, withdrawing the draft contained in document A/C.2/66/L.15.


The representative of Poland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc remained strongly committed to tackling poverty and ensuring the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, which was still possible.  She said she looked forward to engaging in discussions on a post-2015 framework, emphasizing the European Union’s enduring commitment to devoting 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to official development assistance (ODA).


The Committee then took up the draft on Women in development (document A/C.2/66/L.62).


The representative of Sweden and facilitator of the draft made some amendments, saying that the delegation of France had noted discrepancies between the French- and English-language versions.


The representative of the United States said he was committed to empowering women, but the draft included “food-crisis language”, which should have been more specific to the regional food crisis in the Horn of Africa.  He stressed that, although food prices were rising around the world, he did not believe there was currently a global food crisis.


The Committee then approvedthe text without a vote, as orally corrected, withdrawing the draft contained in A/C.2/66/L.12.


As the Committee took up the draft on Human resources development (document A/C.2/66/L.62), the representative of Luxembourg proposed some corrections


The Committee the approvedit without a vote, as orally corrected, withdrawing the draft contained in document A/C.2/66/L.10.


It then approved, also without a vote, the text titled “Towards global partnerships” (document A/C.2/66/L.43/Rev.1).


The representative of the European Union delegation said everybody should benefit from fostering global partnerships, adding that the United Nations Global Compact played a significant role in promoting corporate responsibility.  Women’s empowerment was an example of a new component in the draft resolution, he noted.


The representative of Chile said the international community was realizing the benefits of global alliances, civil society and the private sector in dealing with emerging international challenges.  The draft highlighted the importance of strategic alliances between the public and private sectors, with a particular focus on the promotion of women in the latter.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record